Insurers Expecting Big Bumps in Exchange Plan Enrollment
Several insurers estimate that enrollment in their plans sold through the Affordable Care Act's exchanges will increase by at least 20% during the upcoming open enrollment period, while some insurers expect enrollment to double in some states, Reuters reports.
Six private and not-for-profit insurers based their expectations on current enrollment interest from consumers who are speaking with their brokers, call centers and sales forces.
Several of the insurers increased their staff two- or three-fold to assist with enrollment, with some insurers experiencing a 30% increase in customer calls in October, even though only individuals with qualifying life events can purchase exchange coverage outside of the open enrollment period.
According to Reuters, such expectations are far higher than they were for the initial open enrollment period, when enrollee projections were far more unclear.
Among the insurers interviewed by Reuters:
- Florida-based Health First Health Plans expects to enroll twice as many customers, after enrolling 4,400 individuals in 2014 plans;
- Pennsylvania-based Independence Blue Cross hopes to enroll 30,000 additional customers, after enrolling 165,000 individuals in 2014 plans, and said its call center volume last week increased by 31% over recent weeks; and
- Houston-based Community Health Choice expects to enroll 15,000 to 40,000 more individuals, after enrolling fewer than 500 last year, as a result of what it says are more competitive premium rates (Humer, Reuters, 10/30).
Modest Premium Increases
In related news, average premium rates for individual market health plans, including those sold through the ACA's insurance exchanges, are projected to increase by about 6% for 2015 plans, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute analysis, Bloomberg reports.
For the analysis, PwC examined premium rate filings for the 2015 individual insurance market.
Filings in most of the states are still preliminary, according to Bloomberg (Wayne, Bloomberg, 10/31). In addition, some of the states have reported only partial information. For example, Louisiana and Pennsylvania have reported only rate filings for insurers that asked for 10% or higher rate increases, according to PwC (PwC analysis, 10/20).
Some Insurers Opening Retail Stores
Also in related news, insurers are increasingly opening retail stores or in-person sales centers to reach potential customers and assist enrollees, largely as the result of changes to the health care market brought about by the ACA, Modern Healthcare reports.
According to ConnectedHealth President Joe Donlan, while insurers traditionally have sought to increase enrollment through employers, the ACA has led to an increased emphasis on enrolling individuals in individual market plans, which has led some insurers to incorporate retail stores into their strategy.
Several insurance executives and stakeholders said the retail stores could help consumers navigate coverage options, which in turn would help insurers establish longer-term relationships with enrollees. In addition, some of the stores offer additional health options, including health and wellness offerings, such as yoga or smoking cessation programs, according to Modern Healthcare.
According to Modern Healthcare, examples of insurers that have established or plan to establish retail centers include:
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, which will open its first retail store on Nov. 8, one week prior to the launch of the upcoming open enrollment period on Nov. 15;
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, which has seven retail stores and offers additional in-person assistance on a seasonal basis at mall kiosks;
- California-based Kaiser Permanente, which has nine retail stores and several additional mobile enrollment vehicles in northern California;
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, which has 18 retail locations in the state;
- Humana, which was among the first insurers to establish retail centers and now has 29 retail spaces across the U.S.;
- Pittsburgh-based Highmark, a Blue Cross insurer, which has 10 retail stores; and
- UnitedHealthcare, which opened its first retail store in New York City in late 2011 (Herman , Modern Healthcare, 10/30).
Private Insurers Report Increased Medicaid Enrollment
Meanwhile, several private insurers have reported Medicaid enrollment increases, Modern Healthcare reports.
According to Modern Healthcare, several states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA decided to help enroll new beneficiaries in private insurers' managed-care plans (Herman , Modern Healthcare, 10/30).
Companies that have reported Medicaid enrollment increases as of September 30, 2014, compared with September 30, 2013, include:
- Aetna, which reported 2,098,000 beneficiaries enrolled, an increase of 1.6%;
- Centene Corporation, which reported 2,578,300 enrollees, an increase of 25.5%;
- Molina Healthcare, which reported 2,012,900 enrollees, an increase of 24.2%;
- UnitedHealth Group, which reported 4,920,000 enrollees, an increase of 24.4%; and
- WellPoint, which reported 5,077,000 enrollees, an increase of 17.4% (Herman , Modern Healthcare chart, 10/30).