Tavenner provided data based on 11 state exchanges as evidence that the exchanges will lower the cost of individual insurance "by encouraging plans to compete for consumer." She noted that in Oregon and Washington, DC insurers requested permission to amend their bids after a public release showed competitors coming in at lower rates. She also pointed to California, where she said some rates submitted to the state exchange are as much as 29% below the average premiums paid for small plans in 2013.
However, several committee members cited reports of large premium increases in their districts and states. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) referred to a 198% premium increase anticipated by some individuals in Georgia. "This is not what we are seeing across the country," replied Tavenner. "We have many stories where rates have come in lower than expected. That's why competition and transparency are so important."
Gingrey countered that Aetna and Coventry have announced that they will not participate in the Georgia exchange and in some areas Blue Cross Blue Shield will be the only option. "That's not competition."
"We have always said this process will require several years and more companies will get interested in the exchanges as we go along," Tavenner responded.