At least seven states could have just one insurer offering plans on the Affordable Care Act exchanges in all ratings regions during 2017, according to a new Avalere analysis.
Roughly one-third (36 percent) of rating regions around the country could have just one insurer offer plans on the exchanges, according to the analysis released today. While that could change if new plans enter the market in those regions, the withdrawals of some insurers from many markets and recent co-op failures contributed to this trend, the authors say.
It’s an increase over 2016 levels, according to Avalere data, which shows that 4 percent of ratings regions — which are geographic areas used to set insurance premium rates — had just one insurer offering plans on the exchanges in 2016. Pinal County in Arizona is, as of now, the only county in the country expected to have no insurers offer plans next year.
“There’s obviously been a lot of attention placed on the large national carriers, but it’s also the regional carriers and co-op failures that has driven this decrease in choice as well,” Elizabeth Carpenter, a senior vice president at Avalere, said in an interview.
For the analysis, Avalere compared carriers that have already announced where they will pull back plan offerings in 2017 compared to their 2016 offerings, meaning the analysis doesn’t account for plans entering new markets for the upcoming open enrollment period.
On that point, the Department of Health and Human Services pushed back on the report, calling it “premature and incomplete.”
“A number of steps remain before the full picture of Marketplace competition and prices are known,” Spokeswoman Marjorie Connolly said in an email. “Regardless, we remain confident that the majority of Marketplace consumers will have multiple choices and will be able to select a plan for less than $75 per month when Open Enrollment begins November 1st.”
As insurers have determined their plans for the exchanges, HHS has maintained that developing markets are regularly changing, holding that the exchanges remain strong.
The analysis shows a “moment in time,” Carpenter said, adding that before open enrollment begins the number of counties with one insurer offering plans on the exchanges could either increase or decrease.