Plan Ahead –
Lock in 2015 Health Insurance Prices for most of 2016.
If you are a small business owner who offers your employees health insurance, or you have looked into offering coverage, you know that health insurance premiums have a bad habit of only going up and shopping for insurance can be difficult. In prior years you had to compare pricing of health insurance Company A to health insurance Company B while trying to understand how exactly, the level of benefits differed.
The roll out of the small business exchange in Oregon, Cover Oregon, was supposed to solve many of these problems. The exchange would have allowed small group employers (less than 50 employees) to compare “standard” plans across multiple carriers and evaluate similar plans on price and service. Unfortunately Cover Oregon imploded still leaving business owners stuck comparing plans the old-fashioned way.
The best source of information is probably your health insurance agent when they obtain quotes.
- One resource everyone can access is the Oregon Insurance Division. Unfortunately you cannot get detailed pricing from this website. From the 10,000 foot perspective, it is interesting to look at the proposed 2016 rate and approved 2015 rates for 20- and 40-year-olds.
- One notable source of information is the Health Republic Insurance Company. Health Republic is the only carrier in Oregon that I am aware of that allows the general public to get an estimate online*. To get an estimate, click “Get An Estimate” from the Health Republic website. You will need to enter the ages of each employee. If you find pricing and plans that you would like more information on, your agent would likely be your most reliable resource, especially if the plan or plans differ from your current coverage. It is also possible to buy insurance directly from the carrier.
The price you are quoted by an insurer does not change until renewal. If prices for the new policy are higher than in 2016, you can switch before your current plan renews.
Open enrollment in the individual market
Open enrollment in the individual market is between November 1, 2015 and January 31, 2016. It is only during the open enrollment period that individuals can purchase insurance without a “qualifying event.” During that brief window of time, carriers and agents are scrambling to enroll their entire years’ worth of individual members in just a couple of months. To avoid the rush during open enrollment, small employers who offer insurance should consider renewing before November 1, 2015 to lock in (presumably) lower rates.
Arin J. Carmack
*(If you know of any other carriers that offer this service, email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add a link to this article)