"It's a tried and true approach that's positioned us well for the future in the exchange world," said Kieffer.
In Oregon, exchange officials released tentative plan rates for the state's individual market in May. The exchange has 16 health plans signed up to sell insurance, and Cover Oregon spokesperson Lisa Morawski said the state expects rates to be "very competitive." Some of the rates are actually lower than Oregon's existing average premium of $217 per month for individual coverage. One insurer is offering a basic coverage plan that will charge a 40-year-old nonsmoker only $169 per month.
Competition is Key
In the insurance industry, as in any other business, competition helps dictate costs, and health exchanges are expected to have plenty of players vying for a new pool of consumers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates 90% of consumers in the United States will have at least five insurers to choose from in their region while shopping on the new online marketplace.
In California, the lowest rates in the state are in Los Angeles County, which also has the largest number of insurers to choose from. A mid-range Silver Plan from Health Net will cost consumers $229 per month, the lowest rate in the state. Each of the state's 19 rating regions has at least three insurers selling plans.
And in Oregon, after seeing their original rates were much higher than their competitors, some of the 16 health plans selling insurance on the exchange submitted a revised list of premiums that were up to 15% lower.