Against heavy odds, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance exchanges are stabilizing, and plans’ preliminary premium rates for 2019 are falling below last year’s rates, industry consultants and Wall Street analysts say.
In Florida, for example, state regulators said nine companies submitted rate filings for individual ACA-compliant products for 2019, seven of them to participate on exchanges, Credit Suisse analyst A.J. Rice told investors in a June 26 note. Plans’ average requested rate hike of 8.8% for 2019 in Florida is down from this year’s 18% increase.
Oliver Wyman recently released a new nationwide survey based on feedback from 30 local, regional and national health insurers covering 4.8 million lives in the individual ACA-compliant market on and off-exchange. It finds the ACA-compliant individual-market exchange remains on an even keel, with “greater market stabilization as premiums have largely absorbed the impact of both risk and policy announcements.”
“The interesting part about the survey to me is…it does look like things are starting to settle down,” says actuary Beth Fritchen, a partner in Oliver Wyman Actuarial Consulting.
The survey also finds that carriers’ participation in the ACA-compliant market is holding steady. In all, 21% of surveyed carriers said they intend to expand geographically on the exchanges, and 14% expect to increase their offerings for 2019.
In addition, premium rate increases in the exchanges are topping medical trends. Marketplace rate hikes are averaging 15% for 2019, against expected medical trends of around 7% to 8%. Most carriers incorporated the elimination of the individual mandate, starting in 2019, into their preliminary rates.