Indiana among WellPoint’s weakest exchange states

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WellPoint Inc. CEO Joe Swedish declared last week he was “very cautiously optimistic” about the Obamacare exchanges.

“Rather than saying I'm optimistic, I think the better term is cautiously optimistic. Very cautiously optimistic,” Swedish told the Washington Post.

To understand that equivocal statement, it’s helpful to look at data from the 14 states in which Indianapolis-based WellPoint is selling insurance policies on the new Obamacare exchanges.

In short, they’re all over the map. And Indiana residents have shown nearly the least interest—when measured against the number of uninsured in each state and by the age of enrollees.

At the end of the year, 79,195 Hoosiers had proceeded far enough through the sign-up process on the Healthcare.gov website to be ready to select a plan. That number represented only 8.7 percent of uninsured Hoosiers, according to data from the Transamerica Center for Health Studies. That’s the lowest level of interest among all of WellPoint’s 14 states.

The best performer was Kentucky, which is running its own exchange. Enough consumers there got to the point of selecting a plan that it equaled about 25.5 percent of the state's uninsured.

When those who came to Healthcare.gov and were deemed eligible for Medicaid are added to the exchange enrollees, Indiana looks slightly better—but not much. Consumers equal in number to 13.4 percent of the state's uninsured went that far on the site--third-worst among WellPoint’s states behind Ohio and Georgia.

Kentucky, again, was best, with consumers equaling 41.7 percent of that state's uninsured deemed eligible for Medicaid or at least ready to enroll in a plan.

At year end, 30,443 Hoosiers, equal to just 3.45 percent of Indiana's uninsured, had actually selected an exchange plan. That was second-lowest among WellPoint’s states, behind Ohio.

Indiana’s enrollment places it 24 percent toward the enrollment the Obama administration and the Congressional Budget Office expected for the state. That is equal to the average among all 36 states participating in the federal Healthcare.gov exchange.

But the age mix in Indiana is not good: 73 percent of exchange enrollees are 35 to 64, compared with an Obama administration goal of 60 percent. Only 21 percent of enrollees are ages 18 to 34, compared with an Obama administration goal of 40 percent.

An analysis by University of Houston law professor Seth Chandler found that Indiana’s mix of low enrollment and poor age mix rank it 10th worst on what he calls a Maelstrom Index.

“Just because the ACA is doing better than some had forecast on an overall basis does not mean there will not be very serious problems in some states,” Chandler wrote in a Jan. 13 blog post.

At least one analyst expects WellPoint to lose about $85 million on the Obamacare exchanges next year.

But WellPoint officials say their benchmark isn’t the Obama administration’s goals, but their own expectations. Swedish suggested that WellPoint priced its products this year under the assumption that the age mix would be worse than the White House predicted.

“We also priced for higher levels of acuity in the exchange products, relative to our traditional individual business,” he told investors in San Francisco last week. “Despite the near-term uncertainty, we believe exchanges will be growing as a big part of the market over time. We are more focused on the end game of exchanges than the twists and turns in the near term.”

According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 909,000 uninsured Hoosiers would be eligible for coverage through the Obamacare exchange or an expanded Medicaid program. Indiana has decided not to expand eligibility of its Medicaid program, as called for by Obamacare.


  • Thanks, Governor Pence
    So, not only is the Pence Administration's obfuscation toward Obamacare hurting Hoosiers and the state economy, but it is also hurting the bottom line of one of the state's largest business enterprises. Way to go, Idealogue Mike
  • You act suprised
    Given the atmosphere that our govenor has toward Obama and the ObamaCare plan, i bet the information is not being sent out to the public here in indiana as they do in other states.

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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.