Individual Health Enrollment Falls 11%

Government plans cover 133 million people

(Image: Thinkstock) (Image: Thinkstock)

Plan withdrawals and rising premiums led to a sharp drop in individual and family major medical plan use in the first quarter, according to Mark Farrah Associates.

The Kennebunk, Maine-based research firm says the number of U.S. residents with individual and family coverage fell to 18.1 million, down 11% from the number recorded a year earlier.

The total number of people with some kind of public or private health coverage crept up 0.2% year over year, to 265 million. 

(Related: Individual Health Enrollment Drops 3%)

Mark Farrah analysts base their health insurance enrollment numbers on data from health insurers and managed care companies' financial reports. The analysts use reports from carriers and health benefits industry sources to estimate the number of people in self-insured employer health plans.

The analysts estimate that enrollment in:

  • Insured group health plans fell about 0.8%, to 60 million.

  • Self-insured health plans fell 0.1%, to 119 million.

  • Medicare, Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program plans managed by private insurers increased 6%, to 69 million.

Total enrollment in government program health plans of all kind, including plans managed by private insurers and government plans administered by the government, increased about 2% to 133 million.

Mark Farrah has posted a copy of the report here.

Officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services posted another report, on 2018 HealthCare.gov issuer participation applications, that suggests that the individual major medical enrollment could shrink again in HealthCare.gov states in 2018.

HealthCare.gov handles Affordable Care Act public health insurance exchange enrollment and account administration for the individual market in 39 states.

HealthCare.gov open enrollment for 2018 is set to start Nov. 1 and end Dec. 15.

The number of issuers applying to sell plans through HealthCare.gov in 2018 has fallen to 141, CMS officials reported today.

A year ago, HealthCare.gov was reviewing 2017 slot applications from 227 issuers.

The number of issuers in the review pipeline has fallen 38%.

CMS officials say the actual number of 2018 issuers will probably be smaller: Some issuers drop out between the time they apply for a HealthCare.gov slot and the day open enrollment starts.

About 73% of the issuers that applied for 2017 HealthCare.gov slots ended selling 2017 coverage through HealthCare.gov.

If HealthCare.gov can hang on to 73% of the issuers that have applied for 2018 slots, it could start the open enrollment period with about 103 issuers, or an average of about two to three issuers per HealthCare.gov state.

One open question is how many agents and brokers will apply for certification to sell exchange plan coverage in 2018.

--- Read Government Plan Enrollment Rises Again on ThinkAdvisor.

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