Smallest Employers See Highest Health Coverage Price Hikes

November 29, 2011 ( – The November Employee Benefits Market Survey shows small, medium and large groups have faced significant price hikes for group healthcare coverage during the past six months.  

The survey conducted by The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers found small groups of 50 or fewer employees saw the largest hikes, with 39% receiving increases of 11%-20%, compared with 62% reporting increases in that range in the Council’s May 2011 survey. Thirty-five percent of small groups received smaller increases that ranged from 1%-10%, compared to 13% in the earlier survey. Ten percent of small groups received no changes or price decreases compared to 3% in the earlier study.

In medium-size groups with 51-500 employees, 69% experienced hikes in the range of 6%-15%, compared with 75% in the May survey. Sixteen percent experienced increases of 1%-5%, no change, or decreases, compared to 8% in the May 2011 survey. Large accounts of greater than 500 employees also saw some moderation in pricing. Fourteen percent experienced no change or price decreases compared to 5% in the May survey. For the majority (61%) of large accounts, prices rose in the range of 1%-10%. Prices rose more than 10% for one in 10 (9%) large accounts, compared to 21% which had increases of that magnitude in the May survey.

Ninety-seven percent of respondents expressed some level of concern in regards to the impact of healthcare reform, with those very concerned registering at 51% in the November survey, while 46% said they were “somewhat concerned.” In the Council’s previous survey, 100% of responding group benefit consultants expressed some level of concern about the impact of PPACA on their business, with 59% being “very concerned.”

Group life insurance continued as an area of stability or savings for employers within the group benefits arena. For 15% of small accounts, renewal rates rose 1%-5%, but 51% reported no change, and renewals decreased for 13%. Twelve percent of medium accounts experienced rates increases of 1%-5%, while 53% saw no change, and 24% had renewal decreases. For large accounts, 8% saw renewal increases of 1%-5%, 39% saw no change, and 34% of large accounts saw decreases in group life rates.

Click here for survey results with charts.