January 18, 2018

CMS: Number of insurers selling exchange plans has dropped by two-thirds

Daily Briefing

    CMS estimates about 700 insurers are currently selling individual and small group exchange plans, down by about two-thirds from estimates submitted by the agency last month—though experts say the drop likely reflects insurer exchange exits over the past few years.

    CMS posted the data in an information collection notice published Jan. 8, under which the agency is seeking the White House Office of Management and Budget's permission to continue collecting data about exchange insurers' enrollee risk profiles. CMS in the notice said it revised its estimate of participating exchange insurers based on data from HealthCare.gov and compared that data with prior year submissions.

    Comments

    Tim Jost, an emeritus law professor at Washington and Lee University, also said, "The huge drop in plans likely doesn't reflect a single year."

    Cheryl Fish-Parcham, director of access initiatives at Families USA, said the CMS data indicate the need for Congress to pass legislation and the federal government to issue rules intended to help bolster the exchange market. Parcham said, "We need to make sure there is policy that is conducive to keeping carriers in the [exchanges] and making sure consumers have great choices."

    Similarly, Larry Levitt, SVP for health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said the data "in some cases" reflect exchange exits by insurers that "just couldn't earn a profit when competing against plans with narrower networks and lower costs." He added, "More recently, uncertainty over how the Trump administration would run the ACA [exchanges] has caused some insurers to exit."

    Cheryl Fish-Parcham, director of access initiatives at Families USA, said the CMS data indicate the need for Congress to pass legislation and the federal government to issue rules intended to help bolster the exchange market. Parcham said, "We need to make sure there is policy that is conducive to keeping carriers in the [exchanges] and making sure consumers have great choices" (Dickson, Modern Healthcare, 1/10; Morse, Healthcare Finance News, 1/15). 

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