Most states have at least three health insurance carriers offering product options, BCBSA study finds

In 2016, consumers in most regions of the country still have multiple options from which to select a health insurance plan, but the types of health plans being offered are changing. That’s according to a study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) that shows the types of health insurance choices consumers have had through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces from 2015 through 2016.

The study, The Evolving Affordable Care Act Marketplaces: The 2015 to 2016 Transition, shows, for example, that the share of health maintenance organization (HMO) and exclusive provider organization (EPO) products offered on the marketplaces increased from 41 percent in 2015 to 52 percent in 2016. In addition, the lowest cost silver plans in 46 percent of all counties in the U.S. were HMO products in 2015 compared to 57 percent of counties in 2016.

Price differentials for the same types of health plans are narrowing, according to the report. In 2014, more than 29 percent of counties had the lowest cost silver plans priced more than 10 percent less than the next lowest competitor’s option. In 2015, that number dropped to less than 5 percent, and in 2016, only 1 percent of counties had this large of a price differential between the two most affordable silver plans.

“With the ACA now in its third open enrollment period, insurance carriers are applying more data – including the actual health care costs of newly-enrolled members – to design offerings that more accurately meet the needs of consumers in this new market,” said Maureen Sullivan, chief strategy officer and senior vice president of strategic services for BCBSA.


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