If the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) survives, and if PPACA creates a new system of health insurance exchanges, the exchanges might not lead to a big, long-term increase in the percentage of enrollees who change plans in a given year.
Timothy Jost, a law professor who represents consumer interests in proceedings at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Kansas City, Mo., makes that case in a comment submitted to the Health Care Reform Actuarial Working Group.
The working group is an arm of the NAIC’s Health Actuarial Task Force.
Members of the task force considered the comment Wednesday during a task force conference call session on medical loss ratio (MLR) calculations.
A PPACA provision already in effect requires health insurers to spend 85% of large group revenue and 80% of small group revenue on health care and quality improvement efforts. The actuarial working group is talking about possible adjustments to and clarifications of the rules for calculating MLRs. One question that has come up is whether the new PPACA health insurance exchanges will lead consumers to shift quickly from plan to plan in a way that could throw off the credibility of MLR data.
Jost looks at the experience of exchange programs in the United States and Europe, including the Medicare Advantage program and Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan program, and concludes that exchange programs tend to reduce plan enrollee mobility.
Jost says exceptions can occur when consumers suddenly get access to cheaper prices, or more information about prices.
In the Netherlands, for example, changes made in 2006 suddenly gave many Dutch people with individual coverage access to more affordable group plans.
“Since premiums for group health plans were lower than for individual policies, a large number of enrollees moved from individual to group plans,” Jost says.