Benefits Buzz

Uncertainty Surrounds Individual Market

Posted on February 16th, 2017

Approximately 12.2 million people signed up for coverage through federal and state-run Exchanges during the 2017 open enrollment period which ended on January 31st. This is a 4% reduction in the number of sign-ups that occurred during the previous open enrollment period. Some argue the reduction is attributed to soaring premiums and deductibles in the individual market. Others argue the reduction is attributed to the Trump administration scaling back on open enrollment advertising. In reality, both factors probably played some role in the reduction, along with other factors such as the uncertainty of the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.
 
Insurers such as Aetna, Anthem and Cigna have also expressed their concern about this uncertainty. They have indicated the uncertainty about what lies ahead could cause them to exit certain markets and/or price their plans to account for the uncertainty. That would mean less choice and another round of significant premium hikes unless adequate action is taken, and the clock is ticking since rate filings for plans to be sold in 2018 are due in May.    
 
Fortunately, the uncertainty of repeal, replace, repair, remodel, retool, refine or whatever “R-word” actually takes place is leading to some regulatory action for the individual market. The Trump administration, through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), recently filed a regulatory notice in an effort to stabilize Exchanges and keep insurers in the market of selling individual health insurance plans in 2018 and future years. The notice can be found here and is available for public comment until March 7, 2017
 

 

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