A Few Thoughts on Cats and Doctors

“There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

I don’t know where this saying originated—or why anyone would want to skin a cat even one way—but I’ve used it many times in explaining there’s more than one way to do something. At this time of year, when most small businesses are renewing their benefit programs, it’s especially relevant when reviewing medical plan options.

I recently conducted an informal review the San Diego HMO marketplace for small business medical insurance renewing on December 1. Here’s what I found for two of our largest local medical groups: A 45-year-old seeing the same doctors and paying the same $30 copay could pay up to 41 percent more in monthly premium, depending on which carrier and network were chosen. This equates to over $2,000 year in higher premium for that one individual.

Why would any employer pay $2,000 more in premium for an employee to see the same doctor and pay the same copay? They wouldn’t—if they knew their options. There are six major insurance carriers in San Diego (excluding Kaiser, which uses its own proprietary network) and they offer a total of 25 different networks. How do you know which one to choose without becoming an expert on medical insurance contracts?

You should work with a good broker and get a disruption report. A good broker knows which networks are the most competitive for each of the major medical groups in your area. A disruption or medical group report (available upon request from your current insurance carrier) can tell you what medical groups your employees are currently using. With that information and factoring in your culture and budget, a good broker will put together a proposal that gives your small business the best bang for your buck while allowing employees to see their preferred doctor.

If you’d like to see the detailed market review report referenced above or get a customized report and proposal for your business, you can contact me at “Diana.Twadell@integritybenefits.com. You have my word no cats will be harmed in the process.

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