Dan Diamond reports on some very encouraging news on the health care front. Many insurance companies that initially did not take part in the state or federal health care exchanges in 2013 are now applying to add their policies to the marketplace, which means more competition that should keep premiums down.
In every state that’s shared details thus far, it appears there will be more choices in Obamacare, year 2:
- Michigan’s exchange is going from 13 participating companies in 2013 to 18 this fall.
- At least one additional carrier has filed to sell plans through Kentucky’s exchange.
- Several more insurers may join the plans participating in Virginia, Washington, and Indiana’s exchanges.
- United HealthCare may jump into Georgia’s market.
And the surge in carriers means that there will be many more actual options at the point of purchase, too. Peter Frost at the Chicago Tribune notes the number of companies competing on the Illinois exchange next year will inch up from six to eight—but the number of available policies will almost triple, from 165 to 504…Insurers sat out of the exchanges for different reasons in year one. Some were wary of the start-up risks. Others were openly taking a wait-and-see approach. Still more, it seems, didn’t want any part in the first year’s batch of customers, who were expected to be older and sicker…
And while the technical problems associated with the exchanges have been legion, plans that participated have reported predictably higher revenue, if unclear profits. One million more consumers signed up than expected…and while they weren’t as young and healthy as the insurance companies had hoped for, they were more customers.
The fact that the current insurers are reporting positive results and new companies now want a piece of the action is a very good thing. More competition means downward pressure on premiums, which is a benefit not just for those who get their insurance through the exchanges (like me), but for the nation’s health care spending as a whole.