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Obamacare shuffles market share in some states, report finds

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A snapshot of Obamacare enrollment in seven states suggests the law hasn’t significantly increased competition in health insurance markets, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported Monday.

But it has shuffled market share in several states for some insurers, including Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc.

In California, for example, four big insurers have largely carved up the state’s market. The divide is more equitable than before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as California’s insurance market is now “moderately concentrated” instead of “highly concentrated,” according to a measure of market share called the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index, said researchers at Kaiser, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based not-for-profit that focuses on health care.

“There are some examples of smaller or newer plans being able to get a sizable piece of the market in the exchanges, but by and large a lot of the players in the exchanges that are the biggest were the biggest before as well,” Cynthia Cox, a senior analyst at Kaiser, said.

About 5 million Americans had signed up for private health plans through Monday using the law’s insurance exchanges, according to the U.S. government. The exchanges were intended to ease access and improve transparency for people who shop for insurance on their own, about 5 percent of the U.S. population. Democrats who wrote the law also hoped to break the dominance of some companies that existed in many states.

In California, WellPoint’s Anthem brand signed up about 30 percent of the 869,000 people who used the state’s health exchange, Covered California, by March 1. Anthem had 47 percent of the state’s market before plans started to be sold on the new health exchanges on Oct. 1.

State changes

WellPoint also lost market share in New York and Nevada, where it fell from 28 percent and 34 percent of the market, respectively, to 18 percent and 12 percent, Kaiser said in its report. In Connecticut, WellPoint’s plans now hold 60 percent of the market from 45 percent before major provisions of the law known as Obamacare took effect.

Kristin Binns, a WellPoint spokeswoman, cautioned against drawing conclusions from the Kaiser data, which exclude customers whose plans were renewed from prior years and people who signed up without using exchanges.

Before the health-care law, one insurance company held at least half the individual market in 30 states, according to the Kaiser report. That remains true in some states, even after the major provisions of Obamacare took effect this year. In Minnesota, for example, PreferredOne, a closely held company based in Golden Valley, Minn., has taken about 59 percent of customers on the state’s exchange, MNsure.

Enrolling customers

Before the health law, the state’s Blue Cross Blue Shield plan had 59 percent of the market, while PreferredOne had 3 percent. Blue Cross Blue Shield now has 24 percent share.

The Kaiser report said that PreferredOne took share by offering “some of the lowest exchange premiums in the country” for plans with very narrow networks of hospitals and doctors.

About 95 percent of Americans have a choice of two or more insurance carriers in their state exchanges, Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services said in an e-mail. The government said in September that about 25 percent of companies offering plans on the exchanges were new to the individual market.

“All consumers shopping in the marketplaces also have greater transparency where they can compare comprehensive, affordable plans side by side to find the one that best meets their needs,” she said.

Open enrollment for exchange plans closes for 2014 on March 31.

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  1. These liberals are out of control. They want to drive our economy into the ground and double and triple our electric bills. Sierra Club, stay out of Indy!

  2. These activist liberal judges have gotten out of control. Thankfully we have a sensible supreme court that overturns their absurd rulings!

  3. Maybe they shouldn't be throwing money at the IRL or whatever they call it now. Probably should save that money for actual operations.

  4. For you central Indiana folks that don't know what a good pizza is, Aurelio's will take care of that. There are some good pizza places in central Indiana but nothing like this!!!

  5. I am troubled with this whole string of comments as I am not sure anyone pointed out that many of the "high paying" positions have been eliminated identified by asterisks as of fiscal year 2012. That indicates to me that the hospitals are making responsible yet difficult decisions and eliminating heavy paying positions. To make this more problematic, we have created a society of "entitlement" where individuals believe they should receive free services at no cost to them. I have yet to get a house repair done at no cost nor have I taken my car that is out of warranty for repair for free repair expecting the government to pay for it even though it is the second largest investment one makes in their life besides purchasing a home. Yet, we continue to hear verbal and aggressive abuse from the consumer who expects free services and have to reward them as a result of HCAHPS surveys which we have no influence over as it is 3rd party required by CMS. Peel the onion and get to the root of the problem...you will find that society has created the problem and our current political landscape and not the people who were fortunate to lead healthcare in the right direction before becoming distorted. As a side note, I had a friend sit in an ED in Canada for nearly two days prior to being evaluated and then finally...3 months later got a CT of the head. You pay for what you get...

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