Christopher Hoffman, a 25-year-old New Yorker, developed some common symptoms of COVID-19 in early March: a dry cough, lost sense of smell, and difficulty breathing. He went to urgent care, where he was eventually diagnosed with pneumonia. Since he didn’t have a fever at the time, he wasn’t tested for coronavirus. Just one week later, however, he was in the hospital and on an IV due to what he said was COVID-19.


Christopher is better off than a lot of hard-working Americans because he has health insurance. Unfortunately, he said he’s now fighting with his insurance company over a $3,800 surprise bill and doesn’t know if he’ll get any help because he was never actually diagnosed with coronavirus.    


The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed all sorts of problems with our health care system, particularly in New York City where so many people are sick with the virus. An untold number of New Yorkers just like Christopher struggle with the cost of health care every day, even if they have coverage.


Part of that struggle is due to rising premiums and deductibles. For example, in New York State the total average annual single premium for employer-based health coverage was $6,156 in 2013. By 2018, premiums rose to $7,741 – an increase of more than 25 percent.


As employers try to manage the cost of rising premiums, employees are being asked to contribute more as well, with deductibles increasing in lockstep with premiums. In 2013, the average annual deductible was $1,112 for someone covered through an employer plan in New York State. Deductibles rose nearly 40 percent, to $1,554, by 2018.


These cost trends are crippling. Employers increasingly cannot afford to offer coverage, and people are hesitant to use health care services due to high and unpredictable costs. As the New York region battles the immediate challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and businesses that thrived just months ago now struggle to survive, we must consider how to bring quality health care coverage to more people at a cost that employers can afford.


It’s time to turn the page on this era in which costs are rising but quality of care isn’t. Centivo is a new type of health plan solution built to save employers and employees money and make affordable health coverage available to more people. Based in New York City, Centivo launched a health plan solution in Metro NY in April to provide an option for employers who want to keep their employees safe and healthy – during and after COVID-19 – and who need affordable options to make that a reality.


The Centivo model means employers can save 15 percent or more across the board vs. traditional health plans. How do we do it? We take unnecessary cost out of the healthcare system by directly negotiating competitive prices with health systems and independent practices that you know and trust, and provide employees with a plan option in which they coordinate their care through their selected primary care team in exchange for lower out-of-pocket costs. With Centivo, employers can implement a health plan administrator that provides a range of network and benefit options to best meet the needs of their diverse workforce. Employees can choose the unique Centivo plan with Centivo’s proprietary network or a more traditional health plan option accessing a national network, all administered by Centivo.


Our commitment to quality and value is why Centivo provider partners in New York include Mount Sinai and ProHealth, two leading health systems in the region that have a consistent track record of delivering exceptional health outcomes at affordable costs.


 Employers shouldn’t throw away money in this or any economic environment, and the same, old expensive care that doesn’t deliver quality is a clear waste. Centivo is a new solution. By providing employers with coverage options that lower costs and offer employees a way to conveniently and affordably see a physician, we can make quality health care a reality for more people in New York.

Gillian Printon