Have exchanges boosted insurer competition?

Health insurance exchanges have been in operation since October and 3 million consumers have signed up for plans, but have the new marketplaces actually increased competition and market share among participating insurers like the healthcare reform law intended?

For the most part, the status quo has largely continued, especially in Rhode Island, California and Connecticut, where insurers with the largest market shares in 2011 currently have the most enrollees through the online marketplaces, according to a Huffington Post analysis of insurance markets in nine states.

States that still have only one insurer that dominates with the majority share of the market--like Alabama, Hawaii, Michigan, Delaware and Rhode Island--won't likely see more competition with the exchanges, as FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

For example, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island has enrolled 97 percent of consumers who signed up on the state's exchange, consistent with the insurer's 2011 individual market share of 95 percent, Huffington Post noted. And Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in Connecticut is leading exchange enrollment in the state, signing up 64 percent of consumers who enrolled through AccessHealth CT--higher than its 48 percent market share from 2011.

But in some states, including Nevada, New York and Massachusetts, competition among insurers has evened out. Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, for example, has the largest market share in New York, at only 8 percent. And that's a smaller share of the individual market than it held in 2011 (25 percent). In Nevada, the exchange market shares of Nevada Co-Op and the Health Plan of Nevada/UnitedHealth are almost even at 37 percent and 35 percent, respectively, according to the Huffington Post analysis.

To learn more:
- read the Huffington Post article

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