CHICAGO – A new study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) shows the types of health insurance choices consumers have had through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces from 2015 through 2016.
The study, “The Evolving Affordable Care Act Marketplaces: The 2015 to 2016 Transition,” shows that in 2016, consumers in most regions of the country still have multiple options from which to select a health insurance plan, but the types of health plans being offered are changing to meet the needs of customers and manage risk for health insurers.
For example, the share of health maintenance organization (HMO) and exclusive provider organization (EPO)1 products offered on the marketplaces increased from 41 percent in 2015 to 52 percent in 2016. In addition, the lowest cost silver plans in 46 percent of all counties in the U.S. were HMO products in 2015 compared to 57 percent of counties in 2016.
Price differentials for the same types of health plans are narrowing, according to the report. In 2014, more than 29 percent of counties had the lowest cost silver plans priced more than 10 percent less than the next lowest competitor’s option. In 2015, that number dropped to less than five percent, and in 2016, only one percent of counties had this large of a price differential between the two most affordable silver plans.
“With the ACA now in its third open enrollment period, insurance carriers are applying more data – including the actual health care costs of newly-enrolled members – to design offerings that more accurately meet the needs of consumers in this new market,” said Maureen Sullivan, chief strategy officer and senior vice president of strategic services for BCBSA.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies serve millions of members through marketplaces in 46 states and the District of Columbia. BCBS companies offer products in 89 percent of counties across the nation, providing urban and rural populations with access to affordable health insurance. In addition to offering products on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, all BCBS companies sell individual and group health insurance products throughout the country.
BCBSA used public information to get a national picture of the marketplaces for 2015 and 2016 to see what it looks like for consumers across the nation. This study of consumer choice in the marketplaces is the fourth report by Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Health of America Report. For more information, visit www.bcbs.com/healthofamerica.
 EPO stands for Exclusive Provider Organization and is a health insurance product in which a primary care provider is not necessary, but in which health care providers must be seen within a predetermined network.