Health Plans Expected To Expand ACA Exchange Offerings in 2015
Evidence suggests that more health insurers will offer plans through the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges during the next open enrollment period, which is set to begin Nov. 15, Modern Healthcare reports.
Insurers in most states have until May or June to submit their health plan options to be offered on the exchanges and have until September to withdraw any such offerings. According to Modern Healthcare, many insurers are in the process of analyzing data from the initial open enrollment period to decide which coverage options will be most competitive on the exchanges.
Insurers that have said they anticipate expanding their presence on the exchanges during the next open enrollment period include:
- Cigna, which was active in five exchanges during the initial open enrollment period;
- Some start-up, not-for-profit health insurers;
- Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which did not participate in the first open enrollment period; and
- UnitedHealth Group.
According to Modern Healthcare, the following states have stated they expect more health plans to compete in 2015 but have not yet named specific companies:
- Rhode Island; and
Officials in other states have said it is still soon to tell whether there will be increased competition in 2015. For example, Texas Association of Health Plans Executive Director David Gonzales said he realizes deadlines are approaching, but "our plans have not given me any indication, nor do I think they've given anybody else any indication, about how they plan to approach 2015" (Demko , Modern Healthcare, 4/17).
UnitedHealth Reports Lower Profit, Still Planning for Exchange Expansion
In related news, UnitedHealth Group -- one of the nation's largest insurers -- reported that its net earnings declined by 7.8% during the first quarter of 2014, the New York Times reports. According to the Times, UHG attributed the loss in part to the ACA and in part to a new hepatitis C drug that costs $1,000 per pill.
UnitedHealth is the first insurer to publicize its 2014 financial results, and the results are considered an early indicator of how insurers are progressing under the ACA (Abelson, New York Times, 4/17).
Despite their decreased earnings, UHG still plans to expand its presence on the ACA's state and federal health insurance exchanges in 2015, Modern Healthcare reports.
On a call with investors on Thursday, UHG Executive Vice President Gail Boudreaux said the company "had a very modest footprint in 2014" but "[has] a bias to increase that participation in 2015," adding, "The size of the overall market is positive" (Demko , Modern Healthcare, 4/17).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.