Roughly 60 percent of Affordable Care Act public exchange users could see plans from three or more issuers on the 2017 menu, analysts say.

Another 20 percent may have a choice of plans from just two issuers, and 20 percent may have to make do with plans from just one issuer.

Pinal County, Arizona, could enter the 2017 open enrollment period with no individual exchange plans from any issuer.

The analysts, Cynthia Cox and Ashley Semanskee, give those estimates in a report distributed by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The analysts came up with their figures by using state insurance department filings, information from state-based exchange programs, and information from Healthcare.gov, an ACA exchange enrollment and administration system set up by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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The analysts tried to filter out the plans that could have been offered by insurers that are now cutting their 2017 exchange programs, but they note that the information publicly available does not necessarily include insurers that will be offering exchange plans for the first time in 2017.

Open enrollment for 2017 is set to start Nov. 1 and last until Jan. 31, 2017.

Election Day is Nov. 8.

When the open enrollment period for 2016 started, 85 percent of the exchange users had access to plans from three or more issuers; 12 percent to plans from two issuers; and 2 percent to plans from just one issuer.

Most ACA exchange users use ACA premium tax credit subsidies to cut their share of the premium payments.

HHS analysts noted last week that, because of the way the subsidy program works, most consumers who are willing to change plans should still be able to get 2017 individual exchange coverage for less than $75 per month out of pocket, even if all exchange plan premiums in their communities rise by 50 percent.

A big increase in premiums would increase federal government spending, but, up till now, federal spending on exchange tax credits has been much lower than budget analysts had expected, because exchange enrollment has been lower than anticipated and premium increases have been smaller. 

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