Pat Geraghty, CEO and President of GuideWell and Florida Blue. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the healthcare system and the economy, with the politicization of vaccines adding an additional level of chaos.
So what does this mean for the health insurance business?
With open enrollment underway this week for people purchasing insurance in the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, Florida Blue and Guidewell CEO and President Pat Geraghty joins Intersection to talk about the impact of the pandemic on the health insurance industry, how people get health insurance, immunization mandates and more.
“COVID has obviously been very complex for all of us to manage,” says Geraghty.
He says healthcare spending fell last year because most providers focused on COVID-19, and discretionary healthcare was left out.
“It was a one-year phenomenon. This year, when the delta variant took off, healthcare systems were much more prepared to isolate COVID, deal with it and also cope with their normal volume of patients. As a result, this year’s health spending is off the table. Very, very large expenses go through the system, and health plans and others, employers, have all had to deal with it. “
Health insurance premiums are rising, with Florida Blue’s rates rising nearly 10% next year.
Geraghty says this is in part due to COVID-19.
“Prices that aren’t in a small, assured market like ACA really reflect the experience. So if we have a strong claims experience this will be reflected in the price for next year. And like I said, this year we’ve had the combination of COVID spending and the return of all pent-up demand on regular health services. So the experience was quite high because of it.
Geraghty says Florida Blue’s approach to the federal requirement to vaccinate staff has been to focus on education and encouragement. He says about 80% of the company’s workforce is now vaccinated.
“We have set up seminars, awareness activities, we have organized vaccination clinics at our work sites, we have really tried to give people all the ways to cover themselves and get vaccinated, you know, before the deadline. is running out on the federal mandate, and we see that the people who are now with that boost are moving forward to get vaccinated, ”Geraghty said.
“And we hope that most, if not all of our people will use one of the three pathways, get vaccinated, or have one of the two. [religious or medical] derogations. “