More Insurers Want In on Health Exchanges

FierceHealthPayer

June 19, 2014

Insurers across the United States are jumping on the exchange train—at least 27 new insurers will offer plans on the marketplaces in 2015, reports The Hill.

Healthcare experts note it's only a matter of time before more insurers offer plans on the exchanges, especially since enrollment topped more than 8 million this year. More insurers will mean more competition, which may drive down premium costs, according to The Hill.

In Illinois, eight insurers are hoping for approval to begin selling plans on the state's exchange, reports Live Insurance News. Despite early technical glitches, the exchange met expectations for the first enrollment period and convinced more insurers of its future success.

In South Dakota, two insurers, Avera Health Plans and Sanford Health Plans, intend to sell plans through the marketplace, according to the Associated Press. Avera will offer plans both on and off the exchange, while Sandford will continue to offer at least the same four individual and five group plans it sold through March.

"This is a very positive sign for the exchanges," Avalere Health President and CEO Dan Mendelson, told The Hill. "Companies that made a heavy initial investment, like WellPoint, are staying in, and their more cautious competitors, like UnitedHealthcare, are now entering," he said.

As insurers flock to the exchanges, it may speed up the transition from obtaining health insurance through employers to buying coverage on the marketplace. A large majority of employers (74%) said their insurance expenses have increased this year, making healthcare costs a top priority for their businesses, according to a June survey from insurance broker Willis Group Holdings. That means some companies likely will change how they provide insurance benefits, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

Yet not all insurers are convinced. Many view the exchanges as risky markets that may harm their companies in the long run, according to Live Insurance News.

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