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HIX Competitiveness in Doubt; IPAB Stalled

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, May 8, 2013

In the news this week: Payers continue to move toward health insurance exchanges with limited enthusiasm. Results of a study examining the effectiveness of health insurance on Medicaid recipients are inconclusive. And IPAB is going nowhere, at least for now.

Rarely does a week pass by without news about the federally mandated health insurance exchanges. As the October deadline for open enrollment inches closer, lately that news has been coming with a hefty side of doubt from insurers.

There are still some provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that insurers are still fighting such as age rating, but last week's big reveal from the nation's largest health plans likely got the attention of the feds because it could have implications on the price exchange participants will pay.

Insurers Walk, Don't Run Toward HIX
States, the feds, and insurers have been waiting to find out just how many insurers planned on offering products on the health insurance exchanges. According to an analysis by Reuters, despite the millions of new customers (24 million by 2016, 7 million in the first year) who will be shopping for individual policies in October, health insurance companies are not venturing too far from their comfort zones.

For example, Cigna, one of the nation's largest insurers is planning on entering a "limited" number of exchanges. Even UnitedHealthcare says it will cap the number of HIX it will participate in at 25. The other big boys in the industry echo similar stands, citing they are slow-walking to exchanges because of uncertainty about whether the exchanges will be ready in time for a quickly approaching open enrollment date of October 1.

States that already have a robust and competitive marketplace are likely to fare better than those who only have a few insurers currently covering the population.

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