Almost 200,000 people stand to benefit as Highmark Inc. announced April 24 that small employer business clients will be able to keep their current health insurance plans. This means customers with renewal dates between July and December 2014 will be able to delay for at least another year having to enroll in potentially costlier health plans that reflect new 2014 requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
“Highmark appreciates the crucial role that small businesses play, serving as the backbone of the communities we serve,” said Deborah Rice-Johnson, president of Highmark Health Plan. “Enabling these small employer customers to stick with their current plans reflects our commitment to work with these important clients so that we can continue to provide affordable health coverage for their employees.”
The federal government announced last month that health insurers — with approval from their state insurance commissioners — could offer small employer customers the option to renew existing plans beyond 2014. The Pennsylvania Insurance Department subsequently said it was up to individual insurers to decide if they want to offer existing clients the option to renew their pre-Affordable Care Act plans.
“We expect the majority of our small employer clients to stay with their current plans, but Highmark offers a wide variety of plans that are compliant with the Affordable Care Act and meet the needs of our members,” said Rice-Johnson. “Some of these plans are built on a broad network and some are built on our Community Blue network, where members have a greater opportunity for cost savings when they use a select network of high-quality, lower-cost providers. But at this time, we understand that it may make sense for some of our small employer customers to stay with their current plans. We are offering them greater choice by giving them the option to stay in those plans.”
Whether small employer businesses choose to renew their current plans or opt to purchase new plans that reflect new 2014 requirements of the Affordable Care Act, renewal rates will vary based on the insured group.