Competition Among Health Exchange Plans Curbing Prices, Says Humana Exec
Also in the news, data from Connecticut's exchange shows who purchased new coverage and if they have used it, and more on the staggered launch planned for Maryland's online marketplace.
Reuters: Humana CEO Says New Competition Curbs Obamacare Plan Prices
President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare law will begin enrolling customers for 2015 benefits in mid-November. Now in its second year, Obamacare is attracting health insurers to offer plans in more states after over 8 million people enrolled for coverage in 2014. The country's largest insurer, UnitedHealth Group Inc, sold Obamacare plans in only a few states in 2014. But for 2015, it will sell plans in about two dozen states. Aetna Inc, Cigna Corp, WellPoint Inc and Humana have said they would stick to most of their markets. ... Humana will sell plans in 15 states for 2015 and has asked for premium rate increases of 3 percent to the 20 percent range, depending on the market. Last year, large insurers were hesitant to enter the new marketplace, concerned by conservatives' political opposition as well as federal regulations that required that the plans be available to any individual regardless of age or health status (Humer, 9/17).
CT Mirror: Exchange Says Obamacare Helped Close Racial, Ethnic Coverage Gaps
Black and Hispanic Connecticut residents were more likely than others to be uninsured before the rollout of the federal health law, and new data suggest that the first sign-up period for coverage under Obamacare made a dent in that disparity. The data, based on a survey of people who signed up for coverage through the state’s health insurance exchange, also show that close to three-quarters of enrollees have used their coverage to obtain medical care. Among those who bought private insurance through the exchange, 76 percent said they have a primary-care physician, as did 66 percent of Medicaid enrollees (Levin Becker, 9/17).
Baltimore Sun: Staggered Launch Could Help Md. ‘Kick The Tires’ Off Its New Heath Exchange Website
A day after Maryland committed to a gradual launch of its health exchange, state officials are still working out some key details — including where the opening day sign-up will be held — but experts say it could be a way to avoid a repeat of last year's botched rollout. Several health experts said the approach that limits enrollment in the first few days could allow Maryland to "kick the tires" on its new website. "It's a controlled way to open enrollment," said Karen Pollitz, senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation. "They can work with a controlled number of people for the first couple of days to see how this works in practice. I'm assuming there is some plan at the end of the day when people gather in a room and compare notes and say we need to fix this or that." But Leni Preston, chair of the Maryland Women's Coalition for Health Care Reform, said she feared that a staggered approach might confuse consumers (Cohn, 9/17).