How insurers benefit from a friendly relationship with feds

Though historically on the opposite of most issues, insurers and federal officials have developed a mutually beneficial relationship that will likely grow stronger in the next few years.

For instance, federal officials need insurers' help in reaching out to and motivating consumers to enroll in plans sold on the health insurance exchanges, while insurers have benefited financially from the Affordable Care Act, reported The New York Times.

Insurers also have supported the Obama administration in several court cases against the ACA, including the lawsuit alleging federal subsidies are illegal that the U.S. Supreme Court recently decided to hear, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

All in all, the ACA has had a significant impact on the insurance industry by enabling its growth in response to demand for private coverage. What's more, the number of payers on the exchanges is expected to rise significantly, signifying the anticipated profitability of the marketplace.  

In fact, four of the biggest insurers--Aetna, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealth--have seen their share prices more than double since 2010 when the ACA was signed into law, according to The Times. And insurers say exchange plans, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid coverage are growing faster than the employer-based market.

These ACA-related benefits will likely place insurers in direct conflict with their traditional Republican allies. Insurers have established business plans based on the reform law, yet the GOP wants to undo the ACA.

So far, the Obama administration shows that it will continue to partner with insurers. "We are in this together," CEO Kevin Counihan told insurers at a recent conference, according to The Times. "You have been our partners," and for that "we are very grateful."

And Ben Walker, director of open enrollment for, told The Times that "the relationship between the marketplace and insurers is really critical to a successful program." He added that without that relationship, "we don't have any coverage."

To learn more:
- read the New York Times article