Concerns Raised About Insurers’ Lack of Interest in Health Plan Exchanges
Far fewer insurers have signed up to sell health plans on Illinois' health insurance exchange than officials had anticipated, raising concerns that the lack of interest could indicate a nationwide trend, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.
State officials had predicted that 16 insurers would sell a combined 260 plans through Illinois' online insurance marketplace. However, just six insurers so far have signed up to sell a total of 165 policies on the exchange.
Mike Claffey -- spokesperson for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) -- noted that the state's original prediction included plans that federal officials later ruled out for state-run exchanges.
Robert Laszewski, an insurance consultant, said the results in Illinois suggest that insurers might be pulling away from full participation in the marketplaces. Insurance providers are "terribly fearful that if there's a poor launch (of the marketplaces), they're going to get blamed," he said, adding that companies might only participate in the exchange of their home state during the first year before branching out to other marketplaces.
According to the AP/Bee, insurers are nervous that people with pre-existing conditions will sign up through the exchanges while healthier individuals delay signing up. They also are concerned about fees and coverage restrictions included in the ACA that could affect their profitability.
Mark Bertolini -- chair and CEO of Aetna, the third-largest insurer in the U.S. -- during a conference call Tuesday said the company is "entering these exchanges very carefully," adding that it might decide to remove its products from the marketplaces at the last minute.
If fewer health plans are offered, premiums on plans in the exchanges could be higher than expected because of less competition, according to the AP/Bee (Johnson, AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/1).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.