IBJNews

Obamacare shuffles market share in some states, report finds

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Can your dog sign a marriage license or personally state that he wishes to join you in a legal union? If not then no, you cannot marry him. When you teach him to read, write, and speak a discernible language, then maybe you'll have a reasonable argument. Thanks for playing!

  2. Look no further than Mike Rowe, the former host of dirty jobs, who was also a classically trained singer.

  3. Current law states income taxes are paid to the county of residence not county of income source. The most likely scenario would be some alteration of the income tax distribution formula so money earned in Marion co. would go to Marion Co by residents of other counties would partially be distributed to Marion co. as opposed to now where the entirety is held by the resident's county.

  4. This is more same-old, same-old from a new generation of non-progressive 'progressives and fear mongers. One only needs to look at the economic havoc being experienced in California to understand the effect of drought on economies and people's lives. The same mindset in California turned a blind eye to the growth of population and water needs in California, defeating proposal after proposal to build reservoirs, improve water storage and delivery infrastructure...and the price now being paid for putting the demands of a raucous minority ahead of the needs of many. Some people never, never learn..

  5. I wonder if I can marry him too? Considering we are both males, wouldn't that be a same sex marriage as well? If they don't honor it, I'll scream discrimination just like all these people have....

ADVERTISEMENT