New Health Insurance Plans To Make Premiums More Predictable For Small Businesses

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Guardian Life and Humanaare introducing multiyear health insurance plans for small andmedium-sized businesses that aim to provide employers with morepredictable premiums from year to year, the Wall Street Journalreports. Both companies' plans are meant to appeal to employers thathave been "struggling with double-digit premium increases" in recentyears, according to the Journal.

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Guardian's"Premium Protect" plan will be released within the next few weeks infive states and Washington, D.C., for companies with 51 to 150employees. Under the two-year plan, employers "lock in" premium rateincreases by paying an up-front fee of 3% to 4% to guarantee thatpremiums in the second year will increase by 0%, 6% or 9%. However,employee copayments and deductibles can be increased at any time ifcosts exceed expectations. Employee copays during the second year couldincrease by as much as $15, while deductibles could increase by $50 to$1,000 for in-network physician visits and hospital stays and by $500to $1,000 for out-of-network treatment.

Humana's "No Worry"plan -- released in February in 17 states for companies with 51 to 99workers -- caps annual rate increases at 6%. Employers must submit 75%of their workers' phone numbers and e-mail addresses to receive therate cap guarantee and at least 30% of workers must fill out a healthrisk assessment survey. If employers get 90% of workers to completehealth risk assessments, employers can receive a guarantee that annualpremium increases will not exceed 4.5%. Employers who cancel the planbefore three years will be charged a $25,000 penalty. Under some of theHumana plans, employees' deductibles can increase from $500 to $2,500by the third year (McQueen, Wall Street Journal, 10/9).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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