Small Business Indicators

Friday, March 06, 2009

Stemming from some stories in our Uncommon Economic Indicators project, the Brian Lehrer Show and the WNYC Newsroom are teaming up to investigate the cost of health insurance on local businesses. Small Business Owners: How much have your health insurance premiums gone up this year? What are you and your employees doing to adjust? Post your stories here!

Comments [37]

vic from ny, ny 10003

atlantis healthplan is bankrupt, don't pay nov 2010 premiuum and say thanks to obama care, all white males single guys who are subsidizing all the rest of our wonderful society...tsk, tsk..

Atlantis Health Plans: We're not bankrupt, just negotiating (ahahahaha)

Oct. 27 2010 05:09 PM

Health care plans & coverage have steadily gottn worse over the years, my husbands Aetna HMO cost sharing plan gets more ridiculous every year, we know have a 10k deductable between us..who the hell uses 10k in a year so bascially we have NO coverage, I hope & pray President Obama can fix this messup up system we call health care in our nce great nation?

Aug. 02 2009 07:17 PM
Carol from NYC

In response to this comment:

"Apart form lifestyle choices that push up health care costs for all Americans - principally tobacco use and obesity - some factors that make health insurance more expensive in NY are:

Mandatory coverage for infertility;

Mandatory coverage for mental health;


Interesting to note that NYS offers health insurance coverage by private carriers - UHC, Oxford, Aetna, and others - through its "Healthy New York" plan. Premiums are lower because infertility and mental health are not covered."

As I understand it, under Timothy's Law, health coverage is mandatory, and for excellent reasons. If "Healthy New York" isn't providing the minimum coverage, it's in derogation of state law.

Apr. 06 2009 01:00 PM
Tiffany from New York City

I suggest that for the best and lowest cost health insurance in New York City e-mail for info and rates.

Mar. 27 2009 09:14 PM

We are a health group of 2 in our small business and the health plan, like everyone else is up 15%. My thought is this: ok we've talked about it, so what can we do THIS YEAR to change these rates.

Would Brian Lehrer please use this info the is collecting to contact Andrew Cuomo or whoever to do something about this.

Mar. 10 2009 01:00 PM
John Hahn

1. Our HBCBS rate went up $100 about 12%
2. 2 years ago we dropped drug benefit to save money. Saved $200-300 per month.
3. QUESTION: WHy is Health Insurance tied to place of employment.

I know a number of self-employed people who could band together to form a group. But the companies do not allow it.

Mar. 10 2009 12:59 PM
Allan Hoving

If you'd care to follow, I'm sharing developments on COBRA at

Mar. 07 2009 08:05 AM
jen from NJ

My company has 2 employees. Our premium went up about 15%

Mar. 06 2009 05:06 PM
Shaun Clancy from Manhattan

I run Foley's Pub in Manhattan and am fortunate to be in a position to offer health insurance to my restaurant staff. I looked at a lot of different options and went with Atlantis Health Plan. Obviously, costs today are a significant issue, and the Atlantis rates came in about 20% less than other insurance options I looked at. It's great for small businesses who want to be able to offer their employees coverage.
- Shaun Clancy, owner, Foley's NY Pub & Restaurant

Mar. 06 2009 01:21 PM
mc from Brooklyn

I hope that as Fred Mogul (sp?) does his investigative reporting he finds out what is behind these numbers. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid show a steady 6-12% health care inflation. The administrative part of that public and private is around 7% and has remained flat. that number represents about 15% of the annual premium that the insurance companies keep which has also remained flat. So how is it that the premiums for these small businesses are rising 12-20%? I hope Fred can find some real numbers, I am interested in data, not rhetoric.


Mar. 06 2009 12:56 PM
bob from Bronx

I have Atlantis Health Plan and they seem to be the least expensive in NYC.

Mar. 06 2009 11:44 AM
Paula B from Chappaqua, NY

A friend of mine, who is a musician in a band, told me that he recently bought health insurance and it has a $5800.00 deductible. He was told that if he meets the deductible and has a catastophic illness there is no guarantee that it will pay.

Mar. 06 2009 11:36 AM
Janet Shapiro from Montclair NJ

We are a small group of two (my husband and me as individuals, not a family policy) in northern New Jersey. To maintain our fairly high co-pay policy would have meant about a 10% increase last May. So we opted instead to reduced our benefits to the highest co-pay available ($30 for each primary care visit; $50 for each specialist). This actually lowered our premiums by almost 9%. It was a gamble, and we lost, because this year my husband was diagnosed with lymphoma, and has 1 or 2 specialist visits each week. I haven't yet done the calculations to see whether we're still ahead of the game.

Mar. 06 2009 11:27 AM
Charles Harris from Island Heights NJ

Seetting up a single payer system for primary care only ; hmo keeps criti`cal care, high tech medicine, surgery et. will be available day and night, create jobs. make primary care available for all americans, and cut the costs of health care for families and business in half.

Mar. 06 2009 11:23 AM
Charles Harris from Island Heights NJ

Business health care costs can be halved by creating a single payer system for primary care only, which would be available alkl over the country free to all americans 24/7/365. High tech surgery and consultation will remain with HMOs. But most workers are under medicare age, young people's medical problems can easily be cared for by sophisticated primary care doctors. This program if installed would cut family and business HC costs significantly; would employ a million people, would decongest emergency rooms, and basically give everybody in US primary care availability. tell that to the president.

Mar. 06 2009 11:19 AM
Raul from Prospect Heights

We are organizing a conference dealing with these and related issues. Please see

Mar. 06 2009 11:17 AM
Katherine Baker from Brooklyn, NY

If insurance companies attribute rising rates partly to healthcare costs (Doctor's fees, unnecessary testing or 'over-testing') why do they deny coverage for healthcare provided by skilled wholistic practitioners (who steer clear of unnecessary interventions) and preventative medicine, such as homebirth?

Mar. 06 2009 10:50 AM
Steve from NYC

We provide non-contributory coverage for app. 30 employees and their families. Our 2009 Oxford premium increase = 16% which we could not afford. We switched to an Aetna HSA plan and were able to maintain costs at 2008 level.

Apart form lifestyle choices that push up health care costs for all Americans - principally tobacco use and obesity - some factors that make health insurance more expensive in NY are:

Mandatory coverage for infertility;
Mandatory coverage for mental health;
Rate tiers that discriminate in favor of large families ie.a married couple with one child pays the same family premium as a married couple with five children.

Interesting to note that NYS offers health insurance coverage by private carriers - UHC, Oxford, Aetna, and others - through its "Healthy New York" plan. Premiums are lower because infertility and mental health are not covered. An example. My 26 year old son lost his job recently and pays a $505 monthly premium for single coverage under his former employers plan (COBRA). My 22 year old daughter, who is ineligible for coverage under my plan because she is no longer a full-time student, bought coverage under Healthy New York. Except for the lack of coverage for mental health and infertility, her plan benefits are superior to son's COBRA coverage and her monthly cost is $294. Healthy New York may be a good option for eligible small employers and individuals. They have a web site with links to the providers web sites and the application process is pretty straight forward. Good luck.

Mar. 06 2009 10:44 AM
Frank Saul from West Orange

No one should be surprised by the 15 to 18 % increase in health premiums & it's not about health care costs . It's about profits & investments . These companies use premium dollars to invest in real estate,stocks etc.& when these items lose (significant) value or when their insureds can't pay their deductibles on treatment these profits become losses

Mar. 06 2009 10:42 AM
julie cowan from Chicago Illinois

I am not in NY, but have a great one.
We are self employed and had a policy for our family, an HSA.(health savings account)
Over 5 years it went from $350 per month to $1000 per month.
In 2007, it went from $1000 per month in September to $1500 per month. We had no sickness/medical claims AT ALL during that year. We decided that this company was way too greedy so we found a new insurance agent and he found us a new comparable HSA policy from another company for $780/mo.
When I called the old company to tell them I was cancelling, they transferred me a few times and asked why. I told them why and they said, "Oh, we can lower it to match that $780"!!
It was totally arbitrary.

Mar. 06 2009 10:38 AM
Harvey Geller

In addition to price increases from providers, part of the reason premiums increase is because even healthy people consume more medical services each year. If you went to the doctor for a check-up last year, you might have been tested for 5 things - this year it will be 7 things as the result of new research findings.

In addition, improvements in treatment have extended life. In the 80s, a person diagnosed with AIDS died. As the result of medical research, such people are now able to live with the assistance of medications that cost over $1,000 per month.

Over 80% of all premiums collected are paid to providers and are not retained by insurance carriers.

Mar. 06 2009 10:34 AM
Philip Bellissimo from Upper West, NYC

I am a one man show (small business) in the Logistics field, have Oxford Insurance, rates increased 16% in 2009 and the reason for the insurance agent was: "General Trend Increase". My health care expenses for 2008 were no more then $1,000.00 yet I Paid at least $3,600.00 for my premium.

I switched to a higher deductible within Oxford to suppress the rates and walked away with a 4% increase.

Can't the insurance companies reward healthy eaters who work out?


Mar. 06 2009 10:31 AM
Jason from Staten Island

Does anyone know of a low-cost, high deductible plan for individuals that DOESN'T rely on "co-insurance"? Co-insurance is where you're on the hook for 20%-40% of the bill - exactly what I DON'T want if I wind up in the hospital for a week, god forbid. I don't qualify for Healthy NY.

I'm paying $750 a month right now for HIP's HMO and it's the cheapest I can find. I'm very healthy (haven't been to the doc in years) and can afford a high deductible. But most high-deductible plans seem like scams or just have lousy coverage in general. (I include those available through Freelancer's Union and such.)

Any help would be appreciated!

Mar. 06 2009 10:25 AM
Stephen Wallis from Garrison

Our insurer (HIP) is raising our rates 25% this year. For as long as I can remember, rates have been basically going up 15% per year. Whose wages go up 15% per year? Services go down, while prices go up.

Mar. 06 2009 10:24 AM
Jason from Staten Island

Does anyone know of a low-cost, high deductible plan for individuals that DOESN'T rely on "co-insurance"? Co-insurance is where you're on the hook for 20%-40% of the bill - exactly what I DON'T want if I wind up in the hospital for a week, god forbid. I don't qualify for Healthy NY. Any help would be appreciated!

Mar. 06 2009 10:24 AM
Kathy from Bloomfield, NJ

Our premiums increased 28% when we renewed last August. In past years it has increased as much as 48%. In order to afford to continue offering coverage to our employees ( we pay 50%, they pay 50%) we have decreased coverage, increased co-pay to $50,and shopped around. Last year coverage for a family was over $1200/ month!

Mar. 06 2009 10:21 AM
Melanie from Manhattan

I am a health care provider. In the past 4 years, insurance companies have **decreased** what they pay out for office visits/treatments by at least 60-70%.

Where are the extra premiums going? Look into the deep pockets of the health insurance companies. Not into those of the doctors.

Mar. 06 2009 10:20 AM
Steve Auerbach, M.D. PNHP NY Metro from NY, NY

Numerous indepdendent analysis, even by organizations that don't support it (Commonwealth, Lewin Group, GAO, CBO) show that Single Payer healthcare is the only proposal that will decrease total costs and costs to individuals, while also achieving universal and comprehensive coverage.

What is it? Health care publicly financed, privately delivered. Think about it as "Improved and Expanded Medicare for All."

Polls have shown that 60% of Americans would support it, and 60% American Physicians would also. Only inside the Washington D.C. establishment including President Obama and Senator Baucus except for supporters of House bill HR-676, is it off table.

We call on Congress and the White House to let the Congressional Budget office do a full, honest, side-by-side analysis of all proposals including HR-676 sponsered by Representative John Conyers and about 90+ opther in the House. Let there be a full and fair debate.

It would be good for all employers (except the health insurance companies) and their employees.

Insurance companies are the main problem, and Single Payer is the cure

Mar. 06 2009 10:19 AM
george ambrosio from verona nj

27% increase w/Horizon Blue Cross this year!
We are a 60 employee physician practice. We increased the employee contribution from 10% to 15% and increased the co-pay from 20 to $30/
Even so, the employer portion increase will heavily impact wage adjustments this year. No negotiation - all payers comparable - increases in part due to aging demographic in group

Mar. 06 2009 10:17 AM
Yvonne Durant

I am my business. I have joined a group to get a group rate. My insurance company has notified me that my monthly cost will increase from $344.00 to $425.00. When I called the group I asked for the reason for such a big increase. She said she didn't know and that it's up to the The NY State Insurance Board.

I am healthy, I have a nutritionist I consult with, I exercise, don't smoke and haven't been to a doctor more than three times in the last year. Not for illness, for check up.

Where are the answers? I am not stressing the system yet I have to pay as if I do.

Mar. 06 2009 10:16 AM
Bernie Rosenfeld from NJ

I have a small business in NJ. This year out premiums went up about 25%. Unfortunately, this is not much higher than the normal increase of 18-23% that we have seen each year over the past decade.

Mar. 06 2009 10:15 AM
Jason from Staten Island

NYS has a cap on individual insurance?!? When exactly does it kick in? My individual HMO (HIP) has jacked my rates up 300% (three-hundred - that's right) in the past 7 years. I had a 33% raise last year alone!

Mar. 06 2009 10:15 AM
Trish from New York

I have a very small business - 6 employees, and one of the few benefits we offer to staff is individual health insurance, which the company pays 100% of the premiums... so far. We have Health Net, and premiums went up 17% this year and I think 12% last yeear. We have cut the benefits in previous years with higher copays and a larger hospital deductible, but I feel like I can't do that this year. There is nothing else I can do but suck it up!
Health Insurance is the #1 issue that keeps me up at night!

Mar. 06 2009 10:14 AM
Gary from UWS

As a business owner in NYC, our insurance costs have increased by 20% annually. Because of New York State's outdated insurance laws, the same exact health insurance plan in New York State is 50% higher than in states like Connecticut.

Mar. 06 2009 10:14 AM
Caitlin from Sunset Park

I work for a small clothing company (20 or so employees) and our insurance (through Oxford) is going up 20% next month. It went up last year, too, I forget by how much. I'm fairly young and healthy, so I'm thinking about switching to a cheaper plan with high deductibles and just hope I don't get sick, but still be safe from bankruptcy in case I get run over by a bus.

Mar. 06 2009 10:13 AM
John Hahn from Glen Rock NJ

Our 2 person PR firm had premiums go up $100 per month w BCBS about 12%
THe question is why is health insurance tied to an employer. I would like to create a group of neighbors or fellow under employed people from our town,

WHY is insurance tied with the work place?

Mar. 06 2009 10:13 AM
harriet joynes from Seventh Avenue

We are a small nonprofit with 7 people in an Oxford/United Healthcare plan. Our premium for a single person was $448.00 - I got our renewal - coming up in May - yesterday, and there is a 21% increase to $543 pp. I have asked around and small groups like ours are all experiencing the same issue - thanks for shining light here

Mar. 06 2009 10:10 AM

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