Managers of California’s state-based public health insurance exchange, Covered California, will be letting a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) compete in five of the lower-population pricing regions in the state in 2016.
Covered California managers have also given an affiliate of Oscar, a high-profile New York insurer that tries to “make health insurance suck less,” selling coverage in one pricing region in Los Angeles County and one in Orange County.
Covered California’s preliminary list of the twelve 2016 qualified health plan (QHP) issuers shows that one carrier that’s selling QHPs through the exchange this year, L.A. Care Health Plan, may leave the exchange in 2016.
Managers of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchange also released preliminary 2016 rates.
Covered California operates as an “active purchaser” exchange, meaning that it tries to make an active effort to negotiate with issuers for better rates and better benefits packages, not simply to verify whether issuers and QHPs meet minimum exchange listing requirements.
The average cost of the cheapest QHPs generally available to Covered California users, the cheapest bronze-level plans in each market, may rise just 3.3 percent in 2016, according to a preliminary 2016 price report.
This year, the cost of the cheapest bronze QHPs is 4.4 percent higher than in 2014.
The cost of the cheapest silver plans could rise just 1.5 percent, down from an increase of 4.8 percent between 2014 and 2015.