Insurers' No. 1 worry right now: Consumer confusion

The majority of insurers already finalized plans they will sell during this year's six-week open enrollment period on HealthCare.gov and state-based marketplaces. However, payers fret confusion among the approximately 11 million Americans expected to shop the exchanges beginning Nov. 1 will plague enrollment, The Washington Post reports.

Here are four things to know.

1. Payers fear consumers will be confused about ongoing debate over ending the ACA's cost-sharing reduction payments, which help insurers offset the cost of providing health insurance to lower-income Americans on the exchanges. In addition, insurers worry consumers will be affected by cuts to outreach and advertising for the 2018 open enrollment period. These uncertainties are amplified by President Donald Trump's repeated claims the ACA is "dead."

2. Kristine Grow, a spokesperson for America's Health Insurance Plans — the health insurance industry's largest trade group — told The Washington Post payers are "focused on open enrollment and how do we ensure in this environment, where we've had so much uncertainty, that consumers know where to get their plans. That's kind of job No.1 as we're standing here today."

3. Further complicating the matter is a bill drafted by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., to fund CSRs for two years while also providing states more flexibility with section 1332 innovation waivers. The waivers allow states to bypass certain parts of the ACA. However, President Trump spoke in opposition of the bipartisan bill.

"Whenever our members hear in the media that these things are going away, their immediate thought is 'Oh my gosh, does this affect me now?'" Melanie Coons, a spokesperson for Premera Blue Cross in Mountlake Terrace, Wash., said. "So we try to think from that perspective: what are our members going to do when all they hear is their subsidies are going away and their costs are going up?"

4. As the future of the Alexander-Murray bill remains in flux, Neil Heller, vice president of sales and marketing for Piedmont Community Health Plan in Lynchburg, Va., said the immediate reality is influencing the plan's actions.  

"Until we hear differently, that's really the only course of action that we can undertake," he told The Washington Post. "In the absence of any new information, we are executing on what has been approved and what are the current requirements."
 
For the full report, click here

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