Innovations in Health Insurance for Businesses


Often I write about innovations in private health insurance that are happening in other states but not allowed here in Maine due to our oppressive and costly private insurance regulations. Today, I want to highlight an innovation that could happen here but is not, to my knowledge.
Recently, USA Today highlighted a plan offered by UnitedHealth to mid-sized businesses in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Colorado. The plan features a $2,500 deductible but employees can receive up to $2,000 in credits to use against the deductible if they don’t smoke, monitor and improve their blood pressure, cholesterol and weight ($500 credit for each). In short, take care of yourself and get a $500 deductible. Don’t and get a $2,500 deductible.
The article highlighted an Indiana company with 120 employees that offered a similar plan in partnership with Benicomp, a wellness and supplemental plan carrier. The company’s experience is eye-opening. A high 72% of employees earned three or more credits (at least $1,500). In three years, health insurance costs have dropped to 7.5% of wages from 11.5% of wages, under the former traditional plan. Amazingly, health insurance premiums have not increased in three years. You read that correct – no increase in three years. What is great is the Benicomp is a fully-insured supplement health plan that ‘buys” down the deductible and can be added to a business’ fixed $2,500 deductible plan with any insurer.
Recently, MHPC hosted author Regina Herzlinger, who talked about the power of consumer-driven health care. This is a real world example of putting the consumer in charge and getting the incentives right and reducing the costs of health insurance at the same time.
It would be great if these type of plans expanded to Maine.