Lower Health Insurance Premiums in CO-OP States

States with new member-owned CO-OP health plans as part of Obamacare have premiums that are more than 8 percent lower than states that don’t, a new study shows.

The Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, with startup money loaned by the health care law, have zero or very few customers yet, given all the problems with the sign-up system. But they are going toe-to-toe with traditional insurers on the exchanges in 22 states, introducing new competition to insurance markets.And there’s some early evidence that they may be helping to lower costs.

CO-OPs aren’t the only new insurers operating on the exchanges. Some markets, including New York, attracted other new players, too. And the whole exchange system is designed to spur competition because plans are battling head-to-head for customers who will be able to compare apples-to-apples offerings — assuming the exchanges are able to work through their early technology woes.

See the full story at Politico.com

 

Health Insurance Sales Hit the Mall

A story in USA Today examines how the Affordable Care Act has prompted to open stores in malls as a way for the newly consumer-focused insurers to draw the uninsured to the plans they are offering in state exchanges starting Oct. 1.

Meanwhile, consumer advocates worry that the new stores will attract uninsured people who should be shopping on their state’s health exchange where they can compare all the plans offered for sale.

What do you think of this retailization of health insurance?

See the full story at USAToday.com

The Rise of the Small Insurer

Yesterday was, in some ways, the grand opening of Obamacare. It’s the day that open enrollment begins for state health exchanges. But several of the nation’s largest health insurers are sitting out the exchanges. And this has created an opportunity for smaller companies to expand their business.

L.A. Care is a health plan provider located on the 10th floor of a high rise in downtown Los Angeles. It only offers plans to low-income individuals through Medicare and Medicaid. But starting today, anyone can buy private insurance form L.A Care.

L.A. Care expects to sign up 20,000 new customers in the first month. And that’s just in L.A. County.

See the full story at MarketPlace.org

 

Analyst Sees Private Exchanges Helping Group Insurance Sales

Walgreen Co., the nation’s largest drugstore chain, said last week that it will move its coverage to a private insurance exchange run by the benefits consultant Aon Hewitt.

This approach, called defined contribution health insurance, involves giving employees a set amount of money and then letting them pick their own coverage through a private marketplace or exchange that helps them sort out the choices.

Citi analyst Carl McDonald sees the Walgreen announcement as a positive because of the type of business it could deliver to health insurers. He noted that big employers like Walgreen typically pay their own claims and hire insurers only to administer the policies. That type of coverage produces smaller revenue totals for insurers, as opposed to so-called fully insured plans where the managed care company pays the claims as well.

See the full story at LIfeHealthPro.com

 

Exchanges May Draw 37 Million Already-Covered Workers

There’s been an enormous amount of speculation about employers dumping workers from health care plans, thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Now, two academic studies suggest an altogether different outcome:

While few employers will use the act to drop their health plans, at least immediately, millions of workers who are covered at work could instead choose insurance through state exchanges.

See the full story at BenefitsPro.com

 

Private Exchanges Looking Good to Carriers

Insurance providers are feeling increasingly good about the emerging private insurance exchanges. But carriers are a bit miffed that brokers don’t seem to be doing their homework on the exchanges, and instead want carriers to provide them with answers to the private exchange quiz.

This and more intelligence comes from a study by Eastbridge Consulting Group, which surveyed carriers about their expectations for and attitudes toward private exchanges .

See the full story at BenefitsPro.com

 

 

Highmark Expands Closed Network Plans to West Virginia, Delaware

Highmark Health Services on Friday announced it is expanding its closed network product into West Virginia and Delaware in January. Private exchanges, also called defined contribution health insurance plans, allow employers to offer employees a variety of Highmark products within a fixed budget.

Highmark’s private exchange, called MyBenefits, started in 2011. As of July, nearly 80 businesses were using the product, with nearly 6,000 members enrolled, according to the company.

Read the full story at bizjournals.com

 

Highmark Health Services and Array Health form Strategic Partnership to Expand Defined Contribution Platform

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Highmark Health Services announced today that it is making its MyBenefits defined contribution health insurance platform available to more businesses in more locations by forming a long-term strategic partnership with Seattle-based Array Health.

“Two years ago, we selected Array Health as our private exchange vendor because of its extensive experience in establishing and maintaining this kind of platform,” said Steven Nelson, senior vice president of strategy, product and marketing at Highmark Health Services. “It has been a wonderful relationship with results that exceeded our expectations. More than 14 percent of the groups choosing our defined contribution approach are new clients to Highmark Health Services, and we nearly doubled the number of supplemental products sold to existing customers. We know that to make this platform even better in the years ahead, the time is right for Highmark Health Services to enter into a more lasting partnership with Array Health.”

Read the full story at PRNewswire.com

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

 

Provider-Owned Geisinger Health Plan Selects hCentive’s Health Insurance Exchange Integration and Private Exchange Solutions

RESTON, Va., Aug. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — hCentive, the leader in ACA health insurance exchange technology, announced today that it formed a new relationship with Geisinger Health Plan (GHP), a leading health insurance provider, for WebInsure Exchange Manager and WebInsure Private Exchange.

hCentive’s WebInsure Exchange Manager will provide GHP with a secure means to manage the complex enrollment and reconciliation processes that integration with the state and federal exchanges will bring. The cloud-based solution provides integration with an organization’s internal systems and enables the easy sharing of benefits and product information to other sales channels and any applicable federal or state exchanges. GHP will use the system to accept and transmit data to and from external sources while synchronizing with their own internal systems.

Read the full story at PRNewswire.com