Low Premium Plans Increase Marketplace Price Competition

In an effort to better examine and understand the implementation and effects of the Affordable Care Act, researchers from the Urban Institute found that nongroup health insurance premiums in insurance marketplaces were lower than expected.

In an effort to better examine and understand the implementation and effects of the Affordable Care Act, researchers from the Urban Institute found that nongroup health insurance premiums in insurance marketplaces were lower than expected.

The report examined insurance marketplaces from year to year and discovered that insurer’s premiums increased, on average, about 2.9% between 2014 and 2015. Researchers also took a closer look at the types of participating insurers—they found that Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers generally offered the plans with the lowest premiums because in many cases Blue Cross is a monopoly or near monopoly in certain marketplaces.

By examining 73 different rating regions in 30 states, researchers noted that national insurers were slow to participate in the ACA project the first year; however, insurers such as Aetna and United joined the trend by the following year with higher-than-average premium plans.

Of all insurers participating, Medicaid insurers were ranked among the lowest premium offerings across the board, if not the lowest in some markets. They also offer the lowest plans among the New York City and greater New York marketplaces.

The Urban Institute researchers suspect that many insurers are requesting large premium increases in 2016.