Researchers say state-based insurance marketplaces should make data public

While there's no legal or regulatory requirement, all of the 17 state-based health insurance marketplaces should make their enrollment data public, according to a post on the Commonwealth Fund's blog.

Currently there's no consistent reporting--those state-run exchanges have released varying degrees of information about enrollment by insurance carrier or health plan, or about the demographics of their enrollees, said researchers Sean Miskell, Justin Giovannelli and Kevin Lucia.

Detailed data, which is likely being collected for internal use, could help policymakers make future decisions about health reform, they argued. "Such information could improve oversight of the post-ACA insurance market, and help policymakers and others more easily identify areas where consumers could be better served," they said.

In contrast to the state-based programs, the federal government provides data on enrollment through the federally facilitated marketplace several times a year and with its Medicaid program publishes monthly enrollment reports.

The state-based marketplaces all report general enrollment numbers, but beyond that there is little consistency in what other data they report, the authors said. California is one state that goes public with a wide range of data, including how enrollees access the marketplace by income, information about subsidy status and customer support experience by ethnicity, they said.

But the researchers say sharing data can have benefits for the state-based exchanges. In California, the insurance exhchange shared data with university researchers who compared enrollment data with other sources to show that new enrollees were healthier and allowed the state to use the information to negotiate lower premiums from insurers.

"But more and better data could only help marketplaces and stakeholders cover more people and ensure that consumers are getting the coverage that is right for them," the researchers said.

Federal officials said earlier this week they hope to get about 10.5 million uninsured Americans to enroll under the ACA in the upcoming open enrollment period. Among other benefits, the researchers say improved demographic data could highlight which communities are in need of improved outreach to encourage more of the uninsured to enroll. The federal government is doing just that and will focus on expanding insurance coverage in five targeted areas: Dallas, Houston, northern New Jersey, Chicago and Miami.

To learn more:
- read the blog post