Obama to insurers: Help us enroll more young, healthy people in ACA plans

With the 2017 open enrollment period looming, President Barack Obama has personally stepped in to ask for health insurers’ input about how to improve the Affordable Care Act exchanges--and how best to target young, healthy and uninsured consumers.

Barack Obama

Obama dropped by a meeting on Monday between senior administration officials and leaders from some of the companies that will offer marketplace plans next year, including the CEOs of several Blues plans, Humana, Cigna, Molina Healthcare and others, according to a White House official.

During the meeting, administration officials emphasized the importance of continuing the progress the ACA has made in boosting Americans’ access to health insurance, while also asking the insurance executives for ideas that would help strengthen the marketplaces.

It’s a point Obama underscored in a separate letter to all 2017 marketplace insurers, which a White House official emailed to FierceHealthPayer.

In the letter, Obama acknowledges that the progress made by the ACA “has not been without challenges,” adding that his administration continues to seek opportunities to improve the marketplaces.

Obama points to the set of policy changes his administration offered in recent weeks designed to address some concerns voiced by insurance companies, but he also solicits the insurers’ help in reaching young, healthy consumers who remain without coverage.

Enrolling that cadre of consumers is vital to improve the risk pool, Obama’s letter notes. Indeed, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has said its member plans’ enrollees trended to be sicker and more expensive after the passage of the ACA, and several major insurers--including Aetna and UnitedHealth--have said they will pull back their exchange presence in 2017, citing financial losses.

To target the remaining uninsured, Obama says the administration has developed a “data-driven plan” that involves working with the Treasury Department to reach out to those who paid a penalty for remaining uninsured last year, as well as increasing the more-effective outreach activities and hosting a “Millennial Outreach and Engagement Summit.”

In addition, Obama tells insurers in his letter, “we welcome efforts to increase your outreach during this open enrollment period.”