Our group health insurance plan is with UHC; we currently have a March 1 renewal date. Recently, UHC made small group clients an interesting offer:
If we would like, UHC would change our renewal date to December 1.
While that seems rather innocuous, there are a number of implications. First, why would we want to do this? Second, what affect would this change have on our current 2013 rates (since we've already taken the renewal "hit")?
The primary benefit in taking this offer would be to delay the impact of the major rate increases due after January 1 (due to Community Rating and the like). In effect, we'd be locking in our rates from March 1, 2013 to December 1, 2014. Pretty decent.
A secondary benefit accrues to us due to the nature of our plan: we currently have an HSA-compliant plan with a $3,500 individual deductible. As of next year, these are 'verboten,' and we'll have to either lower that below the $2,000 threshold or find a different configuration altogether [ed: remember when the President promised that "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan?" Good times, good times].
By electing to change our effective date, we also delay making that decision until late next year.
Other carriers have followed suit, of course; via email, Medical Mutual of Ohio offered this:
Q. Can non-grandfathered small group (1-49) or individual customers get an early renewal on December 1, 2013?A. Yes. We recognize customers have valid business reasons for requesting changes to their coverage period. Just as we have in the past, we will continue to accommodate these requests.
That offer, by the way, doesn't apply to 50+ groups.
Oh, and it's worth noting that it doesn't appear that these renewal date changes will impact calendar year deductibles and co-insurance accumulations.