Federal health exchange attracts 120 insurers

More than 120 insurers have submitted policies to sell on the federally-run health insurance exchange, the White House said in a memo published Thursday.

About 25 percent of insurers applying for the online marketplace will be competing for the first time in a state's individual insurance market. And in 75 percent of the 33 states using the federal exchange, at least one new insurance company will be entering the individual market.

Insurers likely will offer about 15 health plans in each state, leading White House officials to claim that competition should increase through the exchanges. "The Marketplace is attracting new insurance choices and increasing competition for consumers, all across the country," the White House said in a blog post

Although the memo didn't identify any of the insurers or provide a break down of each state market, it did state that about 90 percent of consumers will choose from at least five insurers when the exchanges open for enrollment in October.

The strong showing of insurers interested in participating in the federal exchange isn't surprising since companies are taking all available steps to provide low cost health plans, Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, told USA Today. "Competition is a good thing," he said.

Specific cost data related to the federal exchange won't be available until September, but White House officials said high participation rates suggest competition could be strong enough to help restrain cost growth, according to Reuters.

To learn more:
- here's the White House memo and blog post
- read the Reuters article
- see the USA Today article