Small Businesses Face Big Health Insurance Premium Hikes

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ST. PAUL, Minn. – Small business health plans could wind up facing double-digit premium increases for the second year running based on the recommendation of Minnesota’s four largest health insurers.

In Minnesota, the “small group” market covers businesses with somewhere from two to 50 employees, accounting for roughly 275,000 enrollees according to data from the federal government, reports the Star Tribune.

Up to 160,000 people in Minnesota could be affected in total by the proposed increases from various health insurers. Workers covered under the Bloomington-based HealthPartners could be the hardest hit, and this is also the largest health insurer in the small group market. The company covers about 130,000 Minnesotans, and it is proposing a 17 percent increase for most of them, reports the Star Tribune.

Meanwhile, Golden Valley-based PreferredOne is looking at an average rate increase of about 12 percent for its 30,000 enrollees. Eagan-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, the state’s second largest health insurance carrier in the small group market, is looking at an average increase of nine percent for the 89,000 people currently covered by the company.

The state’s Commerce Department will be releasing the final rates for next year on or before October 2.

The primary reason health insurers cited in their requests for increased premiums was increased usage of medical treatment, and those treatments’ increasing costs, reports the Star Tribune. HealthPartners, PreferredOne, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota all cited this as a primary reason for their requests for higher rates. Blue Cross Blue Shield also added that the reinstatement of a federal tax on health insurers justifies the increased rates. Minnetonka-based Medica did not include rising healthcare costs and usage among its justifications of higher rates.

Anders Koskinen