Carriers with more experience in the conventional major medical market may have shifted to higher premiums more quickly than other carriers selling through the new public health insurance exchange system.
Linda Blumberg and other analysts at the Urban Institute looked at carriers’ Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) individual exchange plan pricing strategies in a report backed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The analysts looked at premium and insurer data for a sample of rating regions in 30 states. They divided the insurers into six categories — national insurers, regional insurers, Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurers, insurers that previously had focused on the Medicaid market, and the new nonprofit, member-owned CO-OPs created by PPACA.
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The analysts then looked to see how likely the insurers in each category were to be offering the lowest-priced or second-lowest-priced silver plan in each rating region in 2014 and 2015, and whether the insurer’s pricing position changed in 2015.
The analysts found that national insurers, regional insurers and the Blues were much more conservative about pricing this year: 115 had pricing positions that were “worse” (meaning that their prices were toward the higher end of the range) this year, and only 15 had pricing positions that were “better.”
Insurers sponsored by hospitals and other health care provider organizations were equally likely have a better pricing positions and worse pricing positions: 16 had prices that moved toward the higher end of the range, and 16 had prices that moved toward the lower end of the range.