The Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) approved premium increases at the end of August for individual (non-group) products, effective January 1, 2018. CareFirst BlueChoice HMO products will have premium increases up to 34.5% and BlueCross PPO products will have premium increases up to 49.9%. The amount of increase individuals face can vary depending on specific plan, policyholder’s age, and dependents’ age. For the first time since January 2014, Small Group health insurance will be more cost effective than the individual market. Additionally, for small employers who don’t offer insurance and instead encourage employees to purchase individual policies, consider this: group health insurance premium is not factored into federal, state, and FICA taxes. That is, group benefit contributions are tax free. Employees are paying for individual health insurance post-tax.