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Assurant, Health Net talk exchange strategy

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Executives at Assurant Inc. and Health Net Inc. shed some light on their plans for handling the health market changes set to take effect in 2014 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

During a company earnings call Thursday, Assurant said they will wait until at least 2015 to try to get onto any PPACA exchanges.

Despite not selling coverage through the exchanges, they are involved in other PPACA aspects, such as educating their clients about the law.

The company’s Assurant Health unit has been active in the PPACA inoculation market.

Assurant Health sells individual and small-group health insurance throughout most of the United States.

The company said they are giving customers a chance to buy new products, or renew existing products, in ways that can lock in 2013 market rules until December 2014. That’s because, executives said during Assurant’s earnings call, that many customers are seeking clarity.

Assurant — which gets only a small part of its business from the sale of health insurance — is reporting $134 million in net income for the second quarter on $2.2 billion in revenue, compared with $169 million in net income on $2.1 billion in revenue for the second quarter of 2012.

Assurant Health’s net earned premiums, fees and other revenue fell 2 percent, to $403 million, but new sales were up 35 percent. The company did not give a dollar figure for new health insurance sales, and it did not release enrollment data.

Assurant President Robert Pollock said the company has been trying to focus on helping customers and producers understand PPACA, and on offering affordable products.

“We believe consumers will find our affordable choice plans even more attractive,” Pollock said.

Health Net executives said they plan to participate on PPACA’s individual health insurance exchanges in 13 exchange regions in California, and in the individual market at Cover Oregon, Oregon’s statewide PPACA exchange.

Many carriers that hope to sell coverage through PPACA exchanges in 2014 will be trying to compete there by offering low-cost plans with narrow provider networks.

Jim Woys, Health Net’s chief operating officer, noted that Health Net has been working on developing low-cost, narrow-network plans for years.

“We believe this positions us well as we prepare for the exchanges in 2014,” Woys said in a news release. 

Health Net reported $33 million in net income for the second quarter on $2.7 billion in revenue, compared with $125 million in net income on $2.8 billion in revenue for the comparable quarter in 2012.

The company was covering 5.4 million people at the end of the second quarter, down from 5.5 million people a year earlier.

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