The launch of yet another year of the health insurance exchanges got underway recently with not much fanfare. Yet quietly behind the scenes, the health insurance carriers are positioning themselves for a dramatic shift unless their financial results change.
This posturing of sorts is evident all across the industry. For example United Healthcare recently announced that it will no longer pay brokers commission for selling policies on the health insurance exchanges. Other insurance carriers including Anthem, Cigna, and Atena have all announced they will not pay commissions to brokers who sell “gold plans” or plans to individuals who enroll after the deadline. Call it what you want, but this is a direct incentive for brokers to stay away from assisting consumers on the health insurance exchanges as the insurance carriers continually lose money in these markets. And to rub salt into the wound, Atena recently laid out their concerns about the longevity of the health insurance exchanges only a few months after United Healthcare did the same, suggesting they may pull out of them completely in 2017. When the nation’s largest insurance company makes this kind of statement, it is worth paying attention to.
While it is still premature to suggest that the exchanges are a success or failure, these marketplaces need as many insurance carriers competing as possible to ensure a viable, long-term solution. As more and more pull out or provide cautionary glimpses into what they are seeing, the exchanges walk a tight rope between fiscal longevity and losing business endeavor you can try here.
Over the next few months, as the results of the first two years of data become available, keep a close eye on what the insurance companies report. If they see lots of red ink and a bleak prognosis don’t be surprised if the balance of power tips and prices are forced up accordingly. This may indeed be a make or break year for the exchanges.