Small biz premiums up 6%

Covered California’s small group health program for business will see an average premium increase of just under 6 percent in 2017, the state Obamacare operation said.

cost of health insurance imageThe exchange is bringing “choice, stability and rate moderation to employers, their employees and the many consumers who don’t have employer-based coverage,” Covered California chief Peter Lee said in announcing the average rates and program expansions.

“The options and rates announced today demonstrate that the marketplaces are working to keep insurance premiums under control, and they are giving consumers more choices than ever.”

The average 5.9 percent rate hikes come in contrast to the private consumer rate hikes for 2017, which average a highly publicized 13 percent.

More than 28,000 people have insurance through Covered California for Small Business, making it one of the largest Small Business Health Options Programs in the nation.

The state exchange also announced various changes and expansions to its small business program:

  • Blue Shield of California will take its Full PPO plan statewide across all metal tiers with coverage available to employees working out-of-state.
  • Blue Shield of California will also offer a new plan, Trio HMO Network, “powered by a recent innovation in health care, the accountable care organization (ACO).”
  • Kaiser Permanente will bring coverage to rural Santa Cruz County.

Covered California for Small Business also announced the addition of Rogers Benefit Groups to the ranks of general agents working with the exchange. The company joins general agents Claremont Insurance Services, Dickerson Employee Benefits, LISI and Warner Pacific.

The half dozen health-care carriers participating in 2016 will be back next year: Blue Shield of California, Chinese Community Health Plan, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente, Sharp Health Plan and Western Health Advantage.

Covered California’s Lee said “the relatively low increase (in premiums) for small business helps focus attention on what stability can look like.” He pointed to the end of federal subsidies that inflated the regular Obamacare premiums in 2017. The American Academy of Actuaries estimates the removal added up to 7 percent to premiums for 2017, Covered California said.

> View the Covered California for Small Business information page.

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