Small Business Health Insurance Premium Trends, 2015 to 2017

Health insurance is in the national spotlight on a daily basis, and it can be hard to keep up with the conversation. To make matters more confusing, there seems to be conflicting information about the trajectory of healthcare costs for small businesses, which are defined as groups with 50 or fewer W-2 employees. Some claim that because health plans are required to cover “essential benefits” like preventative care under Obamacare, costs are skyrocketing. Others point out that premiums have been increasing for decades, and that the increase has actually slowed since Obamacare was signed into law in 2010. How do we know who to trust?

As an online service for helping small businesses enroll in health insurance, SimplyInsured has a unique view into medical, dental, and vision plan price trends across the country. We work with the vast majority of carriers in nearly all US regions, and maintain a comprehensive database of prices for thousands of small business plans. Whether small businesses find a plan through SimplyInsured or another agent, they pay the same monthly premium for the same plan.

We conducted a deep dive into our data from the past three years to add more facts to the discussion. Aside from getting a baseline understanding of recent premium price inflation, we wanted to learn how prices and price trends vary by region. See below for a visualization of our data and key takeaways:

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Key Takeaways

Data Tables

Median 2017 Premium Ranges

Premium Range % of regions
$300 or under 3%
$301 to $400 49%
$401 to $500 39%
$501 to $600 8%
Above $601 1%

Premium Growth Rate, 2015-2017

Growth Rate % of regions
-10% or less 1%
-5% to -9% 1%
-4% to 0% 21%
1% to 5% 32%
6% to 10% 37%
11% to 15% 6%
More than 15% 1%

Top 10 Regions by Median 2017 Premium

Rank State Counties Premium
1 NY Ulster, Sullivan, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, Delaware $752
2 NY Suffolk, Nassau $704
3 NY Westchester, Rockland, Richmond, Queens, New York, Kings, Bronx $687
4 NY Wyoming, Orleans, Niagara, Genesee, Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany $652
5 FL Monroe $613
6 NY Washington, Warren, Schoharie, Schenectady, Saratoga, Rensselaer, Montgomery, Greene, Fulton, Columbia, Albany $608
7 WI Pepin, Eau Claire, Dunn, Chippewa $595
8 WI Vernon, LaFayette, Iowa, Grant, Crawford $595
9 NY St. Lawrence, Otsego, Oswego, Oneida, Madison, Lewis, Jefferson, Herkimer, Hamilton, Franklin, Essex, Clinton, Chenango $594
10 NY Tompkins, Tioga, Steuben, Schuyler, Onondaga, Cortland, Chemung, Cayuga, Broome $587

Bottom 10 Regions by Median 2017 Premium

Rank State Counties Premium
1 AZ Santa Cruz, Pima $232
2 AR Yell, White, Van Buren, Saline, Pulaski, Prairie, Pope, Perry, Lonoke, Grant, Faulkner, Conway, Cleburne $262
3 KS Wilson, Sumner, Sedgwick, Rice, Reno, Montgomery, McPherson, Marion, Kingman, Harvey, Harper, Greenwood, Elk, Cowley, Chautauqua, Chase, Butler $266
4 PA Warren, Venango, Mercer, McKean, Forest, Erie, Crawford, Clarion $268
5 AL Mobile $269
6 AR Pike, Montgomery, Hot Spring, Garland, Clark $270
7 IA Warren, Polk, Marion, Madison, Jasper, Dallas $273
8 IN Washington, Scott, Jefferson, Harrison, Floyd, Crawford, Clark $275
9 PA Potter, Elk, Cameron $276
10 PA Somerset, Jefferson, Huntingdon, Clearfield, Cambria, Blair, Bedford $278

Top 10 Regions, 2015-2017 Premium Growth Rate

Rank State Counties Growth Rate
1 AZ Santa Cruz, Pima 38%
2 NY Wyoming, Orleans, Niagara, Genesee, Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany 21
3 NY Ulster, Sullivan, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, Delaware 19%
4 NY Yates, Wayne, Seneca, Ontario, Monroe, Livingston 19%
5 NY St. Lawrence, Otsego, Oswego, Oneida, Madison, Lewis, Jefferson, Herkimer, Hamilton, Franklin, Essex, Clinton, Chenango 18%
6 NY Washington, Warren, Schoharie, Schenectady, Saratoga, Rensselaer, Montgomery, Greene, Fulton, Columbia, Albany 16%
7 AZ Maricopa 15%
8 NY Suffolk, Nassau 15%
9 NJ Mercer, Camden, Burlington 15%
10 NY Tompkins, Tioga, Steuben, Schuyler, Onondaga, Cortland, Chemung, Cayuga, Broome 14%

Bottom 10 Regions, 2015-2017 Premium Growth Rate

Rank State Counties Growth Rate
1 AZ Navajo, Mohave, Coconino, Apache -18%
2 CO Yuma, Washington, Sedgwick, Saguache, Rio Grande, Prowers, Phillips, Otero, Morgan, Mineral, Logan, Lincoln, Las Animas, Kit Carson, Kiowa, Huerfano, Fremont, Custer, Crowley Costilla, Conejos, Cheyenne, Chaffee, Bent, Baca, Alamosa -13%
3 CO Larimer -11%
4 CO Summit, San Miguel, San Juan, Routt, Rio Blanco, Pitkin, Ouray, Montrose, Montezuma, Moffat, Lake, La Plata, Jackson, Hinsdale, Gunnison, Grand, Garfield, Eagle, Dolores, Delta, Archuleta -11%
5 CO Weld -10%
6 MS Stone, Jackson, Harrison, Hancock, George -7%
7 CO Park, Jefferson, Gilpin, Elbert, Douglas, Denver, Clear, Creek, Broomfield, Arapahoe, Adams -6%
8 CO Boulder -6%
9 IL St. Clair, Monroe, Madison -5%
10 NC Scotland, Sampson, Robeson, Richmond, Hoke, Harnett, Cumberland, Bladen -5%