With Aetna pitching a fit and bailing on Obamacare exchanges after the Justice Department decided to fight the insurer's planned anti-competitive merger, one heath care think tank estimates as many as a third of Obamacare plan recipients will have only one provider available.
With the departure of Aetna and other major insurers from a significant swath of Obamacare exchanges, health care industry analysts anticipate a dramatic increase in regions where competition in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces is low come the 2017 plan year. According to a report released Friday by the health care consulting firm Avalere, consumers in seven states are currently expected to have only one carrier option in their ACA marketplaces.
The report additionally compared the level of marketplace competition by geographical regions within each state.
"Avalere experts predict that one-third of the country will have no exchange plan competition in 2017, leaving consumers with few options for coverage," a press release unveiling the report said.
Avalere's predictions are based on insurers' public announcements so far about their intentions for 2017. Those plans could still shift ahead of the Nov. 1 open enrollment period.
The Avalare report breaks down expected insurer competition level by exchange market rating regions, the geographic areas used to set insurance premiums. Thirty-six percent of exchange market rating regions may have only one or no carriers in 2017. Another 19 percent of market rating regions are currently expected to have two insurers, meaning less than half the market rating regions -- 45 percent -- will offer insurers three or more plans. That number could grow, however, if insurers announce plans to expand.
Competition's already a problem, but remember if these planned mergers had gone through, far more people would have only one provider choice. We'll see who picks up the slack, if anyone, but the real issue is that the Obamacare model and the for-profit insurance model aren't co-existing well at all.
One of them is going to have to go eventually.