Recent reports suggest that health insurance costs are climbing at rates not seen in years. Consulting firm Mercer found in its 2023 national survey of employer-sponsored health plans that employers expect health benefit costs will rise 5.4% on average in 2024. Factors contributing to the higher costs are higher inflation and labor shortages. According to Mercer, the projected 2024 cost increase is up significantly from previous annual cost increases that averaged three to four percent.
In its survey of more than 450 employers, Willis Towers Watson (WTW) found costs for employee health coverage may increase an average of 6.4% in 2024 – the highest increase since 2012.
While these group health numbers are up, they look favorable as compared to individual and family health plan (IFP) rates on the public health exchange. Covered California said in July that the preliminary weighted average rate increase for carriers for 2024 is 9.6%. Individuals in some parts of California may see even larger increases; nine regions (of 19) had average rate increases exceeding 10%.
Blue Shield of California had the biggest average weighted rate increase on the state’s public exchange – 15%. Anthem’s weighted average rate change was 10.9%. Aetna CVS Health had the smallest average increase of 0.2%.
The California exchange rate changes – the largest in five years – are attributed to many factors, including a continued rise in health care utilization, higher pharmacy costs, and inflationary pressures impacting the health care industry. Those include rising care costs, labor shortages, and salary and wage increases.
In the Silver State, the Nevada Division of Insurance said in August the proposed 2024 rates for the Nevada Health Link exchange carriers are running an average increase of 2.9% for its 10 participants.
If costs are going up for 2024, that makes it more challenging for employers . . . and for you in helping your clients help them stay within budget. What can you do to help your clients? Here are five strategies to consider.
1: Shop the full market with help from Word & Brown: We have a diverse roster of carrier, administrator, and other plan partners. We offer all major Small Group and Large Group Medical and Ancillary carriers as well as additional lines such as IFP in California, Supplemental Medical, and more. (Visit our website for a complete list of our California and Nevada product and service partners.
Our proprietary WBQuote and WBQuote Lite software makes it easy to compare your client’s current plan to renewal alternatives. We even highlight plan differences to make plan selection simple. And, of course, our built-in safeguards prevent inaccurate rates or pairing of plans that cannot be sold together.
You can generate a quote in 30+ different layouts and get a translation in your choice of five languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese. Plus, we offer integrated provider search to ensure your clients have access to the doctors and hospitals they want in the plans they’re considering.
2: Build a stronger connection by offering clients value-added benefits: You can enhance your client relationship by offering them value-added benefits like COBRA administration for 20+ enrolled employee groups and a Premium Only Plan (POP) for groups of any size. Both of these are offered at no added cost when you write your client’s Medical through Word & Brown.
3: Employee enrollment and onboarding support: We make it easy to get your groups enrolled, and for your clients to onboard and manage employees’ benefits. Our API integration streamlines your enrollments – and we offer enrollment teams in California to support presentations in person, by phone, and via online webinar. Ask us for details.
4: Take advantage of our valuable compliance expertise: No other General Agency offers the in-house expertise you can get from the WBCompliance team. They can assist with compliance-related matters, annual employer, complex regulations, and more. We’ll help you navigate the uncertainty of state and federal laws affecting you, your clients, and their employees.
5: Service after the sale: You can count on Word & Brown’s legendary Service of Unequalled Excellence from start to finish: from quote to enrollment, to ongoing service and renewal. Our commitment to you and your clients is what has allowed Word & Brown to continuously grow and attract new customers since 1985.
If you’re already working with us, contact your Word & Brown representative to find out what we can do to help you quote and close more often – during peak season and all year long. We’ll help you find the right solution to your clients’ specific needs and budget.
If we’re not working with you yet, it’s easy to get started. Call us today at 800-869-6989, or fill out our online form.