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Individual Health Enrollment Drops 3%

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Turmoil in the commercial individual major medical insurance market may be hurting people’s ability to get private coverage.

The number of people with individual coverage fell 3% between the end of 2015 and the end of 2016, to 17.3 million, according to Mark Farrah Associates.

That compares with 5.8% growth in individual health enrollment between 2014 and 2015.

(Related: Government Plan Enrollment Rises Again)

The individual enrollment figures include people who bought their coverage through the Affordable Care Act public exchange system and people who bought their coverage outside the exchange system.

“The volatility of the Affordable Care Act’s exchange program forced many insurers to dramatically raise premiums in order to make up for financial losses, or to withdraw from the exchanges altogether, negatively impacting membership,” according to Mark Farrah analysts. “Needless to say, the market outlook is uncertain.”

Enrollment also fell in the fully insured group health market.

The number of people in fully insured group health plans dropped 2% between the end of 2015 and the end of 2016, to 59.5 million.

Enrollment rose 1%, to 119 million, at self-insured employer plans, and it rose 6.4%, to 68 million, at Medicare Advantage plans and privately managed Medicaid plans.

Thanks to growth in enrollment at self-insured plans and government plans, the total number of people with some kind of health coverage increased 1% year over year, to 264 million.

— Read Mark Farrah: Insurers Likely Lost $6 Billion in 2015 Individual Health Losses on ThinkAdvisor.