Study: ACA Exchange Plans Cost Less Than Similar Outside Plans
Four of the nation's leading insurers offer similar coverage options on and off the Affordable Care's insurance exchanges, but coverage for the off-exchange plans is more costly than the exchange-based versions, according to a recent study by HealthPocket, The Hill reports.
The consumer research group compared premium rates for bronze, silver and gold plans on the exchanges -- from Aetna, Assurant, Cigna and United Healthcare -- with the plans' non-exchange versions.
The study found that, on average, plans sold off-exchange were 40% more costly. Researchers noted that the higher prices could be in lieu of lower deductible and co-insurance, which some consumers consider as more important (Al-Faruque, The Hill, 6/6).
ACA Exchanges for Small Businesses Still Need Work
In related news, some states' insurance commissioners are opting out of using the federal government's small-business health insurance exchanges because the exchange "remains a work in progress" and a key function offering more options has been delayed, the Washington Times reports.
Last year, federal officials delayed for one year online enrollment in SHOP and its "consumer choice" function, both of which would let employees in companies with 50 or fewer full-time workers select coverage from a variety of health plans (Howell, Washington Times, 6/8).
In May, HHS released documents suggesting that the department is on schedule to launch SHOP this November save for one feature -- which requires employers to offer workers a choice of multiple plans -- that will be delayed another year.
HHS also finalized rules allowing commissioners to postpone implementing the employee choice feature until 2015 if they believe immediately implementing the feature will spur insurers to increase premiums in 2015 (Harrison, "On Small Business," Washington Post, 5/23).
Timothy Jost, a professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law, said he believes that more than a dozen states have requested another delay to the employee-choice option.
However, CMS has declined to comment on the figure. Agency spokesperson Aaron Albright said, "We are currently reviewing state submissions and we will provide more information very soon" (Washington Times, 6/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.