FRANKLYWNOW - [Richard] - News: Story 2

[Richard] - News: Story 2

WASHINGTON — Consumers in much of the country will have a broader
selection of health insurance plans next year, the Obama administration said
Tuesday, as it predicted an increase of about 25 percent in the number of
insurers that are expected to compete in federal and state marketplaces.
More competition will help hold down premiums, federal health
officials said. The administration released preliminary data on insurers that
have indicated they want to participate next year in the insurance
exchanges, where the federal government subsidizes premiums for millions
of people.
So far, it said, the number of insurers, also known as issuers, is up to
315 next year, from 252 this year. For the 36 states served by the federal
marketplace, it said, the number is up almost 30 percent, to 248 next year,
from 191 this year.
Fourteen states ran their own exchanges, and half have reported the
number of insurers expected in 2015. The number in these states and the
District of Columbia is expected to increase by about 10 percent, to 67, from
61, the administration said. A three-month open-enrollment period begins
Nov. 15.
Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of health and human services,
disclosed the numbers of insurers in a speech at the Brookings Institution,
where she said the data showed that “the Affordable Care Act is working.”
9/24/2014 Under Affordable Care Act, 25 Percent Increase in Health Insurers Is Predicted -
“During the last open enrollment,” she said, “consumers could choose
from an average of nearly 50 plans. Today, we're able to announce that in
2015 there will be a 25 percent increase in the total number of issuers selling
health insurance plans in the marketplace.”
The numbers are generally consistent with reports by some insurers,
which have said they are moving into additional states because they see the
government-subsidized market as a business opportunity.
However, the numbers came with several qualifications.
Many states have more than one insurance market or rating area. An
insurer is counted as participating in a state if it is in just one local market.
Consumers in an urban area may have additional choices next year, but that
does not guarantee the same options for people in rural areas who had more
limited choices this year. The administration did not disclose the number of
plans in each rating area in a state.
Moreover, administration officials said, if an insurer offers its products
on the exchanges of three states, that is counted as three insurers.
The numbers, through Sept. 4, do not reflect a decision last week by
PreferredOne, the largest provider of coverage on Minnesota's insurance
exchange, to pull out of the state's online marketplace.
Federal officials said they were pleased to see increases in states with
few options this year. In New Hampshire and West Virginia, the federal
exchange had just one private insurer this year, officials said. The number is
expected to increase to five in New Hampshire and two in West Virginia.
Likewise, officials said, in Alabama, Maine, Mississippi and North
Carolina, the number of insurers will rise to three in 2015, from two this
year. In Alaska and Wyoming, the number will remain at two.
In Arkansas and Montana, officials said, the number of insurers on the
federal exchange will rise to four, from three this year. The number will be
unchanged at three in Delaware, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Among the states showing substantial increases were Indiana, where
the number of insurers is rising to nine, from four, and Missouri, where the number is doubling, to eight, officials said. 
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