Health Insurance Update (Marty Trierweiler, Billmark’s Lakes Area Insurance, Inc.)

Even with all of the changes and horror stories going on with health insurance in Minnesota, there may still be options. We have some general findings from our agency, based on informational releases from insurance carriers, followed by meeting as a group to decipher the true meanings and ramifications for our clients. As the saying goes, “The only constant is change,” and that really applies to health care in Minnesota today!

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota has announced it will cancel 103,000 individual plans in Minnesota January 1, 2017, but also announced it will write new products in the Blue Plus limited network. The Blue Plus plan will be offered in all counties except Benton, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Crow Wing and Stearns. It will take all new enrollees and not cap enrollment.

Medica announced it will take on new members in 2017, but limit new policies to 7,000. If you are fast enough to be one of the first 7,000, the only way to get a new policy with Medica is directly through MNsure for its new 2017 plans.

Health Partners announced it will limit policies to 11 counties. These include the seven metro area counties and the four counties surrounding St. Cloud. Health Partners has not announced a specific number of policies it will write, but may cap enrollment this year as well.

Preferred One will not offer any new individual enrollments for 2017.

The average increases we are seeing on individual and family health rates are between 50 percent and 59 percent, depending on factors such as age, plan design and for which county the plan is rated.

There may be another solution beyond traditional individual or family plans in the way of options for small group coverage. We have been working through the details with the carriers on what they will accept as a small group. As of right now, at least one carrier will offer a plan that covers owners only, down to one person as long as there is some type of corporation in place which has been established for six months or longer. There are also options for sole proprietors as long as at least one “common law” employee is covered on the plan. Partnerships can also be considered for a small group.

Group plans can have quite a number of advantages over individual plans, including selecting from different provider networks with choices that include the Mayo in-network. Another advantage is pricing; the 2017 rates we have compared at our agency show that, the majority of the time, pricing is lower on small group plans versus individual plans.

To go along with that, small group plans may offer more tax advantages. Checking with an accountant is advised to see the true impact on your personal situation. Another important advantage is flexibility, since small group plans can be written with effective dates of any first day of the month throughout the year, whereas individual plans only have a specific open enrollment period each year.

If you are losing your individual plan or are having a difficult time with these massive premium increases, it may be worth a call to an insurance broker who works with small group insurance plans to see if that is a possible solution for you. If you are going to be renewing or starting a new individual or family plan, it may be worth meeting with an insurance broker to discuss that as well. Several of the plans will cap their enrollments on a first-come, first-serve basis with open enrollment starting November 1, 2016, at 12:01 a.m.


Source:  Minnesota Milk