2016 Insurer Participation Remains Stable in State-Based Marketplaces

By Emily Curran, Justin Giovannelli and Kevin Lucia

At the outset of the third open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health insurance marketplaces, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported that the number of insurance companies participating in the federally run marketplaces would remain relatively consistent from 2015 to 2016. Our close analysis of the 17 state-based marketplaces also found stable participation. Despite the struggles of many consumer operated and oriented plans (CO-OPs) and persistent market challenges, most state-based marketplaces have an equal or greater number of insurers competing for business this year.

State-based marketplaces have fostered competition by establishing rules that encourage plans to participate. These efforts have included creating waiting periods for insurers that avoided the marketplaces in their first year and requirements that align coverage inside and outside the marketplaces. Federal officials recently expressed interest in using similar techniques by reaffirming the authority of marketplaces to selectively contract with insurers. As they explore how to use this authority in the federally facilitated marketplace, it’s valuable to consider the experiences of state-based marketplaces and learn from best practices.

In their recent blog post for the Commonwealth Fund, CHIR researchers Emily Curran, Justin Giovannelli and Kevin Lucia provide an overview of insurer participation in the state-based marketplaces and explore potential levers the marketplaces have to preserve and promote robust participation. To read more, visit the Commonwealth Fund blog here.

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