Report: Copper exchange plans would save billions

Insurers hoping to have the option of selling a new plan on the health insurance exchanges just got a boost for their cause. The so-called "copper plans" could reduce federal healthcare spending by $5.8 billion over the next 10 years, according to an analysis released Tuesday from Avalere Health.

That amount saved would be a result of the federal government not paying out subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

Avalere's report also concluded that if copper plans are approved for 2016, premiums would lower by 18 percent compared to the average bronze plan.

"Introducing a new tier in 2016 may cause some individuals who have already enrolled in a marketplace plan to re-evaluate their prior choice, while also attracting other individuals who are expected to enroll for the first time in a marketplace plan that year," the report said.

Copper plans, which have been championed by the Council for Affordable Health Coverage and America's Health Insurance Plans, would cover about half of a member's medical costs and cap out-of-pocket costs at a little more than $6,000 for individuals and $12,000 for families, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

"The Affordable Care Act requires more expensive insurance than many small employers can afford," CAHC President Joel White said in a statement. "The copper plan creates a new, more affordable option that businesses and their workers want and need. Congress ought to pass the plan immediately."   

Avalere researchers also believe that Congress approves copper plans, more companies would enroll their employees in exchanges rather than pay a penalty for not providing coverage, which in turn would reduce the amount of revenue the federal government could earn.

To learn more:
- here's the Avalere Health analysis
- read the CAHC statement