Insurers Enter HIXs Despite Gaping Uncertainty

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , September 25, 2013

HRI surveyed more than 100 insurance executives about the exchanges and found that:

  • 69% plan to offer coverage on the exchanges, suggesting the rising significance of this new business opportunity
  • 10 of 18 national health insurer executives said they won't offer exchange coverage in all the states where they now have business, and 50% expected to enter additional states after 2014
  • 63% said technology integration and 61% said coordination of subsidies were major barriers to implementation
  • 34% of insurers said understanding newly eligible customers was a major barrier to implementation, suggesting they may not thoroughly understand the challenges associated with attracting and maintaining this new group of buyers armed with the ability to choose—a major shift from the wholesale approach many insurers are used to
  • 91% expect that premium costs, followed by total out-of-pocket costs, will be what consumers care about most
  • Industry and consumer experts expect that personalized communication, tangible rewards, health management programs, and brand recognition will be factors in consumer choices

Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, says health plans are entering the exchanges despites significant unknowns: mainly the prohibition against denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, and whether young and healthy people will sign up.

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