In the wake of Empire Blue Cross’s recent major SMB changes the 2 new Crains article below point to the early shake up results.
Tough Decisions on Health Coverage
Empire’s Small Group “simplification” did indeed cause groups to escape Empire’s rate increases and reduced plan selections. Additional, not mentioned in the article was that groups are facing plan modifications such as Rx changes switch to % from fixed $ copay and loss of Walgreen/Duane Reades chains. By being the largest insurer on the block heavy provider negotiations have been de rigieur as evidenced by loss of Westchester Medical Center for 14 months and counting.
Groups have been fortunate to find comparable alternatives despite these changes but we see little public evidence of concern form NYS legislature. We are not seeing the long term vision to open up markets to strong national insurance competitors. On the contrary we have deep concerns of allowing the past 2 non-profits of GHI and HIP merger and latest talks of going for profit.
Lastly, the article makes mention of possible “Health Exchanges” entering the market and lowering rates. Where is there evidence of this decrease? I’m not seeing why an insurer working in an oligopoly environment with price controls would be motivated to lower rates. Would Con Ed or Blue Bell lower rates in the 70s because now SMB can shop online??
Thanks for the post but the article in WSJ on Doctors going broke is most telling I’m afraid. I dont see how a doctor can practice independently any more, its not like the health care changes are enriching them!
It is deeply concerning and i am genuinely surprised that more small businesses are not being vocal about this. It would seem that both Providers and Policy Holders would benefiet from a more competetive market with broader options.
Lisa, I’m on the same page with you and surprised at the inertia of SMB. They are too busy with day to days to have the means to make a difference-the colloquial “silent majority” perhaps?
What would they be doing in Europe right about now?
Isn’t it about time to consolidate small businesses into several large groups so they can pool their resources and get better rates the way large companies and labor unions do?