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Health Insurance Leads for Agents

Health Insurance Leads Key as Premiums Skyrocket

Agents looking to secure health insurance leads should take note that customers’ wallets and patience are growing thin. A recent study from Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust points out that premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance increased to $13,375 annually for family coverage this year with employees on average shelling out $3,515 and employers paying $9,860.

According to the benchmark 2009 Employer Health Benefits Survey, family premiums jumped approximately 5 percent this year, which is much greater than general inflation (which dipped 0.7 percent during the same time frame, mainly related to declining energy prices). Workers’ wages increased 3.1 percent during the same period.

Agents in search of the best insurance leads should take note that in the last decade, premiums have grown a total of 131 percent, far more quickly than workers’ wages (up 38 percent since 1999) or inflation (up 28 percent since 1999). Over the past few years, the annual gain in premiums has been more moderate than the double-digit growth seen earlier this decade.

As Congress considers health reforms building on the existing employment-based system, the annual Kaiser/HRET survey provides a clearer picture of private health insurance coverage and costs which could lead to a surge of new health insurance leads.

The survey discovered that 60 percent of firms offer health benefits to any of their workers this year. As in the past, the smaller the firm, the less likely it is to offer health benefits with less than half (46 percent) of the smallest employers (three to nine workers) offering health benefits.

Among those firms offering benefits, 21 percent state they reduced the scope of health benefits or increased cost sharing as a result of the economic downturn, and 15 percent report they increased the worker’s share of the premium.

Agents in search of health insurance leads are working with more cost control for both employers and their workers given the state of the economy.

According to Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman, “When health care costs continue to rise so much faster than overall inflation in a bad recession, workers and employers really feel the pain. That’s why we are having a health reform debate.”

So What Does This Mean For Health Insurance Leads?

The survey demonstrates that a larger number of workers who have employer coverage are facing high deductibles in their plans along with contributing to the premiums for their coverage. In 2009, 22 percent of covered workers must spend at least $1,000 out of pocket annually for single coverage before their plan generally will start to pay a portion of their health care bills, up from 18 percent last year and 10 percent three years ago.

The increase in covered workers with high deductibles results from changes at large employers (200 or more workers), though workers at smaller firms remain significantly more likely to face large deductibles. Among covered workers at large firms, 13 percent now face deductibles at or above $1,000; at small firms (three to 199 workers), 40 percent face deductibles at or above $1,000 including 16 percent with deductibles at or greater than $2,000.

Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) continue to dominate the employer market, enrolling six in 10 covered workers. Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) cover 20 percent of workers, with an additional 10 percent in Point-of-Service plans, and 8 percent in consumer-directed plans, which are high-deductible plans that also include a tax-preferred savings options such as a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA).

When asked about their plans for 2010, 21 percent of offering firms report they are “very likely” to raise workers’ premium contribution next year, and 16 percent indicate they are “very likely” to raise deductibles. Only 4 percent say they are “very likely” to restrict eligibility for coverage, and 2 percent say they are “very likely” to drop health coverage altogether.

“As in the past, we’re seeing many businesses struggling with ways to curb their health care costs, including offering high-deductible plans for workers, though relatively few expect to drop health benefits altogether,” added Kaiser Vice President Gary Claxton, lead author of the study and director of the Foundation’s marketplace research.

Agents looking for quality health insurance leads should look for the best deal possible for policyholders to acquire and retain their business and trust. At InsuranceLeads.com, we provide reliable health insurance leads for agents as premium in the industry skyrocket.

The survey included 3,188 randomly selected, non-federal public and private firms with three or more employees (2,054 of which responded to the full survey and 1,134 of which responded to a single question about offering coverage).