Thursday, October 03, 2013

Frustrating Carrier Tricks: Early Renewal edition

As we've previously discussed, "early renewals" offer a way for small group plans to extend their 2013 rates and plan designs out late next year. This offers two potential advantages: expected ObamaTax-related rate hikes and plan design changes are deferred until late 2014, giving businesses a chance to see how the landscape looks almost a year after the Exchanges (and numerous other ObamaTax requirements) roll out.

For most small business owners (and their premium cost-sharing employees), rates are, perhaps, the most crucial element. So in order to know whether or not to "pull the trigger" on an early renewal, it seems helpful to know just what the renewal rate would be (and how much next year's might be).

To that end, both United Healthcare and Medical Mutual of Ohio have released actual, hard numbers for their small group clients. They included a modest rate hike (if any) and a general idea of what next year's will look like. Some groups benefit from the change, some don't, but at least the business owner has actual numbers from which to make an informed decision.

Not so with Anthem.

One of my Anthem groups has a November renewal date. Now, one might wonder what they'd gain from changing to a December one. After all, what difference does one month make? And I agree, it wouldn't seem like a lot. But that's not the point: the point is that it's their call to make, not Anthem's, and they need hard numbers to make it.

But that is not to be.

In a process that calls to mind Ms Pelosi's famous admonition, this client must sign an essentially irrevocable (due to poor timing on Anthem's part) letter requesting the date change, and only then will Anthem release the kraken rates. So they have to agree to it before they are granted the privilege of knowing what it is that they agreed to.

And people wonder why insurance companies are so well thought of.
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