New Research Shows ACA Exchanges Will Compete with Private Insurers; None are Easy

CHANGE SCIENCES HEALTH INSURANCE INFOGRAPHICNEW YORK, /PRNewswire/ — Web researchers Change Sciences Group released new data this week comparing the insurance shopping experience on public health exchange web sites, including the new HealthCare.gov site, with the shopping experience on private health insurance sites. According to the research, the new HealthCare.gov site (released on November 30) offers an insurance shopping experience which is now on par with leading private insurer web sites such as Aetna, eHealth and Kaiser Permanente. Continue reading

CMS to Providers Looking to Support ACA Premiums: Not so Fast!

On November 4, 2013, the Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a Q&A warning hospitals, other healthcare providers, and other commercial entities that it had “significant concerns” about those entities  supporting premium payments and cost-sharing obligations with respect to qualified health plans purchased by patients in the Marketplaces.

The guidance stated that HHS has significant concerns with this practice because it could skew the insurance risk pool and create an unlevel field in the Marketplaces. HHS said it discourages this practice and encourages issuers to reject such third party payments. The agency said it intends to monitor this practice and to take appropriate action, if necessary. – See the Q&A at cms.gov.

Private Exchanges Debated; Fully Insured or Self-Funded?

Should large employers offering employee health plans through a private exchange be doing so on a self-funded or fully insured basis, or should they be bothering with this new concept at all?

According to an article in Health Insurance Exchange, that was a topic for discussion at the recent Self-Insurance Institute of America’s 33rd annual National Education Conference & Expo in Chicago.

Several industry representatives discussed the pros and cons of private exchange companies, whether benefits offered through these exchanges should be fully-insured or self funded and if the exchanges will save employers money in the long run. -See the full story at Health Insurance Exchange.

Narrow-Network Plans Spark Lawsuits and Renewed Debate

Carriers are increasingly turning to narrow-network plans help lower premiums to attract cost-conscious consumers to thier products offered through insurance exchanges .

This trend is getting pushback from some hospitals in the form of lawsuits and has renewed the debate over what is “reasonable access.”

AISHealth examines this issue in their featured Health Business Daily story found here.

Next Generation Retail Technology Designed to help Health Plans Differentiate their Private Exchange Marketplaces

SEATTLE – October 22, 2013 – Array Health, a leading provider of private health insurance exchange technology, today announced the next generation of its Array Spectrum™ Member Marketplace, the consumer-facing module of its private exchange solution.

Array Health claims that exchanges built with this next generation retail technology will help health plans differentiate their privately branded online marketplaces from less consumer-friendly offerings and ultimately help them attract and retain more customers. Continue reading

Most Health Insurers will Pursue Multi-Channel Strategy with Private Exchanges Within the Next Six Months: Survey

A post over on the Acclaris Blog this morning breaks down the results of a survey conducted late this summer by Array Health to find out what health industry leaders are predicting to be the future for private exchanges and defined contribution health plans.

The survey reports that almost 80% of respondents believe that within the next six months health insurers will participate in private exchanges and 70% believe that insurers will participate in both private and public exchange models.

See more at Acclaris.com/blog.

 

Survey: Big Business May Shift Retirees, Part-Timers To Insurance Exchanges

Corporate America is taking a hard look at moving retirees and part-time workers into health insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act, suggests a survey by the National Business Group on Health.

To a lesser extent large companies also expect coverage for their full-time workers employee spouses to shift to the online, state-based marketplaces known as exchanges, according to the annual survey published Wednesday.

Read the full story at KaiserHealthNews.org

 

Bare Bones Health Plans Expected To Survive Health Law

Proposed and final rules issued this spring surprised many by failing to bar large employers from offering insurance policies that could exclude benefits such as hospitalization.

Offering bare-bones policies may result in some fines, but that expense could be less than the cost of offering traditional medical coverage.

The bare-bones plans cannot be offered to small businesses with fewer than 50 workers, or to individuals buying coverage through new online marketplaces that open for enrollment Oct. 1. But benefit experts expect some larger firms that buy outside the marketplaces or that self-insure to consider them.

Read the full story at KaiserHealthNews.org

 

ACA Obstacle: Consumers’ Confusion When Picking a Plan

Recent surveys show that U.S. residents are confused by the ACA — and, more generally, by health insurance — which has led some observers to question whether the exchanges’ open enrollment period will proceed smoothly or be too overwhelming for those who would benefit most from the reform law.

Many health care experts see the health insurance exchanges as the most crucial component of the health reform law.

Supporters hope that the exchanges — which primarily will serve individuals and small businesses — will function similarly to websites like Amazon and Expedia, allowing users to choose among various health plans through an easily navigable online store.

Open enrollment begins Oct. 1, and if survey findings are any indication, it could be a very confusing time for those buying insurance.

Read the full story at CaliforniaHealthline.org

 

 

Towers Watson: Health Care Reform Heightens Employers’ Strategic Plans for Health Care Benefits

Over the short term, employers plan to retain active medical plans amid projected cost increase and excise tax concerns; greater change expected to retiree medical plans.

The breadth of health care reform is prompting changes and ushering in emerging opportunities for employers, according to a survey of 420 midsize and large companies by global professional services company Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW). While employers remain concerned about a predicted 5.2% increase in 2014 health care costs and the risk of triggering the excise tax* in 2018, most (82%) continue to view subsidized health care benefits as an important part of their employee value proposition in 2014.

However, the 2013 Health Care Changes Ahead Survey found that a majority of employers do anticipate making moderate to significant changes in their health benefit programs for all employees and retirees by the beginning of 2016. It also revealed a clear disparity in how employers view public and private exchanges. Nearly 30% of employers have confidence in public health insurance exchanges as a viable alternative to employer-sponsored coverage in 2015. In contrast, private exchanges are more appealing, with 58% having confidence in them as a viable alternative. In short, employers are intrigued by the potential of private exchanges to control cost increases, reduce administrative burdens and provide greater value.

Read the full story here: TowersWatson.com