Less Choice, Higher Premiums To Greet Exchange Health Plan Buyers
Charging higher prices and offering less choice often will result in a typical business losing customers. But apparently those basic economic principles don’t apply to health plans sold over state and federal health insurance exchanges next year.
The federal government released two reports on what consumers should expect to see when they visit the federal health insurance exchange or their state’s health insurance exchange online starting November 1. That’s when the open enrollment period opens for health plans that will provide medical benefits for the 2017 calendar year.
In the first report, released October 19, HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation said it expects 13.8 million people to select a health plan through a state or federal insurance exchange during the open enrollment period. That’s up 1.1 million, or 8.7 percent, from the 12.7 million people who were expected to sign up for a health plan during the open enrollment period last year.
The ASPE, which is the agency of record on health insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, said it expects the “effectuated” health plan enrollment to reach 11.4 million people in 2017. Effectuated enrollment is the number of people who have paid their premiums and have active coverage at a given point in time during the calendar year. The projection represents a 2.7 percent increase over the effectuated enrollment of 11.1 million people this year.
The increase in enrollment comes despite some other numbers released Oct. 24 by the ASPE in a second report.
According to the ASPE:
- The number of issuers, or health insurance carriers, selling health plans on state and federal exchanges will drop to 228 in 2017 from 298 this year. The net loss of 73 results from 89 existing carriers exiting the exchanges in 2017 and 16 new carriers signing up to sell plans. In Minnesota, the number of issuers will drop to four from five.
- The average number of health plans available to consumers per county on state and federal exchanges will drop to 30 in 2017 from 47 this year. In Minnesota, the average number of health plans available to consumers per county will drop to 18 in 2017 from 47 this year.
- The average monthly premium for a benchmark health plan sold to consumers on state and federal exchanges will rise 22 percent to $296 in 2017 from $243 this year. The ASPE defines the benchmark plan as the second-lowest cost silver-level plan available to a 27-year-old individual. In Minnesota, the average monthly premium for the same plan will jump 59 percent to $340 in 2017 from $214 this year.
In both Hennepin and Ramsey counties, the average monthly premium for a benchmark health plan sold over MNSure, the state’s exchange, will be $286 in 2017, or 55 percent more than 2016, the ASPE said.
“Adjustments this year reflect issuers bringing their rates in line with observed costs, now that two years of data are available,” HHS said in a press statement.