Baton Rouge group health insurance rate increases less steep in 2019

It’s likely Baton Rouge employers providing health care coverage will see their group insurance rates increase again in 2019, but the jump probably won’t be as high as in years past.

“Every group is different, but overall increases are lower than they’ve been in the past,” says Kerry Drake, president of employee benefits at BXS Insurance, of the local market. “We’re seeing middle- to low-single digits, five percent and under.”

Nationally, the average group health insurance policy totaled $6,896 a year for single coverage in 2018, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, with employers paying 82% of the premium on average, or $5,711. Employees paid the remaining 18%, or $1,186.

Numbers are similar for Baton Rouge, says Drake, with cost increases expected to continue the same trend of 3% to 5% next year.

Still, other employers could see flat rates or even more modest increases next year. The best way for them to deal with the uncertainty, says Drake, is to be open to other options that could reduce the impact of cost increases. Those include reference-based pricing, direct contracting with hospitals and taking advantage of the recent expansion of Association Health Plans.

“Employees are saying, ‘help me, do something,’ so employers are going to have to be open to those options,” Drake says.

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