As three major insurance companies reduce their presence in theAffordable Care Act individualmarketplace, a lack of choice for customers is becoming a majorconcern.

|

A new analysis of the individual marketplace by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that in 31percent of U.S. counties, only one carrier will be operating nextyear. In another 31 percent of counties, only two will be offeringplans.

|

The irony is that the lack of competition within the ACAmarketplace appears to be driven at least in part by a legal battlethe Obama administration is waging to prevent two major insurance mergersthat it contends would harm competition.

|

Aetna, which had previously indicated a desire to expand theirofferings in the marketplace, announced days after the lawsuit wasfiled that it would be exiting the marketplace in most states.

|

Anthem, the other insurance giant whose acquisition the U.S.Department of Justice is trying to thwart, has not similarlyannounced an immediate plan to exit state marketplaces, but ithinted that that may soon be the plan when it announced that, uponfurther scrutiny of its financials, it determined it had lost moneyon its Obamacare business last year.

|

Separate from that legal battle, UnitedHealthcare, the largestinsurer in the country, has reduced its ACA business to five statesafter reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in losses on itsmarketplace plans.

|

The lack of competition is particularly pronounced in the South.No county in Alabama or South Carolina has more than one carrier inoperation, and Florida, Mississippi, Georgia and North Carolina aremostly made up of such counties.

|

Arkansas is an interesting anomaly in the South. Every county inthe state has at least three carriers offering marketplaceplans.

|

Another study released on Monday by the University of Miami School of Business servedup some good news about the ACA.

|

The research was based on a meta-analysis of over 100 otherstudies of the ACA, and concluded that thelandmark law had led to over 20 million Americans gaining coverage.Roughly 11.7 million gained coverage through the marketplace, 10.8million were added to the Medicaid rolls and 3 million young peoplewere allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance.

|

However, the same research highlighted one of the naggingconcerns about the ACA: Not enough providers will accept ACA plans.The study found that 40 percent of Americans still report at leastone issue in getting access to health care, a problem thatdisproportionately affects those on the lower rungs of the economyand people of color.

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and BenefitsPRO.com events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.