25% more in­sur­ers jumping into the ex­changes

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS - By Paul Demko

Oba­macare sup­port­ers touted the good news last week when the CMS an­nounced that at least 25% more in­sur­ers will of­fer plans on the fed­eral and state ex­changes for 2015.

Sev­enty-seven ad­di­tional in­sur­ers will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in ex­changes in the 44 states for which data are avail­able. “To me, it shows that the ACA is alive and well and that some­how God didn’t lis­ten to the prayers from the crit­ics,” said Uwe Rein­hardt, a Prince­ton Univer­sity health­care economist.

The CMS re­port looked at 36 states us­ing the fed­eral Health­Care.gov web­site and eight of the states run­ning their own ex­changes. In the fed­eral-ex­change states, there will be 57 ad­di­tional in­sur­ers—a 30% in­crease. In four of those states—In­di­ana, Mis­souri, New Hamp­shire and West Vir­ginia—the num­ber of in­sur­ers sell­ing plans will at least dou­ble.

Jon Kings­dale, who for­merly headed the Mas­sachusetts con­nec­tor ex­change, said his state did not see as rapid an in­crease in in­surance com­peti-

“The in­creased par­tic­i­pa­tion of in­sur­ers for 2015 shows that they are op­ti­mistic about the vi­a­bil­ity of the ex­change mar­ket.” Joel Ario Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Manatt Health So­lu­tions

tion when it launched in 2007. He also noted that while New Hamp­shire has been try­ing for years to get more in­sur­ers to com­pete in its in­di­vid­ual in­surance mar­ket, for 2015 that state will go from one in­surer to five.

In nine states the num­ber of in­sur­ers will re­main the same. Cal­i­for­nia is the only state that will see a re­duc­tion in its al­ready vig­or­ous com­pe­ti­tion, with the num­ber of car­ri­ers drop­ping from 12 to 10.

In Min­nesota, Pre­ferred One, a provider-owned plan that cap­tured nearly 60% of that state’s ex­change en­roll­ment in 2014, an­nounced it would not of­fer ex­change plans for 2015.

But the new CMS data sug­gest that Pre­ferred One will be an out­lier. Only 14 in­sur­ers that did business in the ex­changes in 2014 won’t be back for the next open en­roll­ment, which be­gins Nov. 15.

United Health care, the coun­try’s largest in­surer in terms of lives cov­ered, is sig­nif­i­cantly ramp­ing up its ex­change par­tic­i­pa­tion for 2015. The company plans to com­pete in two dozen ex­changes, more than dou­bling its par­tic­i­pa­tion.

The in­creased par­tic­i­pa­tion of in­sur­ers for 2015 shows that they are op­ti­mistic about the vi­a­bil­ity of the ex­change mar­ket, said Joel Ario, for­mer di­rec­tor of HHS’ Of­fice of Health In­surance Ex­changes and now a man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Manatt Health So­lu­tions.

“There’s prob­a­bly no bet­ter sign of whether th­ese mar­kets have a longterm fu­ture than the level of com­pe­ti­tion,” he said. “I think (in­sur­ers) are the best judges of that.”

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