Monday, November 16, 2009

Small Businesses Face Health Insurance Rate Hikes in Massachusetts

health insurance

Some commentators have called the Massachusetts health reform plan adopted a few years ago "Obama-like." But health reform in the Bay State has not meant the end of insurance premium woes for small employers. The Boston Globe reports that small business insurance rates are jumping by the double digits.

At a time when both the state and the nation are struggling to rein in health care costs, many small businesses in Massachusetts say they’re receiving the largest premium increases in years for their Jan. 1 renewals. Insurers in September said they expect to raise premiums an average of 10 percent next year, but some employers are facing increases that are double or triple that - or even higher.

While all of the state’s health insurers have been jacking up rates for small businesses, which lack the negotiating might of larger enterprises with hundreds or thousands of employees, some of the steepest increases have been coming from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts. The Boston insurer, the state’s largest, has in the recent past offered lower base rates than many of its rivals.

One possible cause? The state's universal mandate has forced high-cost individuals into small-business insurance plans.