The Coronavirus Pandemic has impacted almost all aspects of our lives. This is especially hard because our economy was doing so well immediately preceding the start of this national emergency. We went from having record low unemployment rates, to record high unemployment. Many companies were forecasting spectacular spring and summer earnings before, and now many of them have filed bankruptcy. Also, our nation is grieving. DOMO.com tells us today that 101,957 Americans have lost their lives due to COVID-19.
One aspect of COVID-19 that I watch: What will the impact to Health and Dental Insurance premiums be? Employers large and small have been watching renewal trends for many years as it has historically been one of their largest expenses: providing benefits for their employees. While it is still entirely too early to see trends, there are a few struggles that will most likely impact the outcome.
We began to see a direct impact of closures of business initially on Vision and Dental providers, as they were some of the first to be affected by COVID-19. Keeping patients and employees safe can be difficult with these providers – and they are generally considered “Elective” and “Non-Urgent”. Because of these closures, many dental and vision insurance companies began to offer incentives very early on to businesses and members. One of the most surprising to me has been changes in renewal rates. Several Dental Insurance companies nationally actually changed upcoming renewals that had previously been issued as an increase – to a hold. Most all the dental and vision renewals I’ve worked on the last few months were changed to a 0% increase.
Medical providers were impacted, this we know. Many horrible stories have been published in the news. My thanks to those numerous front line workers that continue to fight this battle. What is less known is that the medical providers that are “Non-Urgent” were slowed as well. Most non-urgent surgeries were cancelled or postponed, and many medical offices that serve sensitive populations made great attempts to keep their clients safe, often by restricting access except for the most urgent circumstances. This caused some medical and nursing providers loss of income and job. Yes, some nurses and CNA’s and other providers were laid off and had to go on unemployment.
The National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) shared an article from Healthpayer Intelligence that further highlights that Americans have deferred care. We’ve heard some stories about the decrease in heart patients in the ER. Some people are afraid to go and get care at a hospital. This article states that the Kaiser Family Foundation expects to see a rise in care over the next 2-3 months as the 32% of Americans that had to defer care will try to get their services. They expect the slow of the healthcare industry to bounce back quicker than many other sections of the economy.
Because of financial struggles, uncertainty, and other factors – some national providers are starting to lower costs for certain services and benefits. We will see if this starts to impact the rest of the nation through 2021.
Ultimately – what is the impact on rates? Will the COVID-19 Pandemic cause rates to rise? I’m sure that the increase of medical care due to Coronavirus in some areas may cause rates to go up. We will most likely see some areas experience a higher increase in rates due to COVID-19 than others. We must also consider deferred care. How long will it be until before Americans are getting care at the same rate that we were in 2019? These factors may bring costs down in the short term.
I sincerely hope that we can soon see the end of Coronavirus and its negative impacts on every part of our lives. I’m heartbroken for the loss we have experienced, inspired to see the strength that has helped many overcome, and hope to see more of the service that will bring us all together again.
In the words of Lester Holt with NBC “Please take care of yourself and each other.”