This comes from Kaiser Health News.
UnitedHealthcare, the largest insurance company in the nation that largely refused to participate in the Affordable Care Act exchanges in the first year, has decided to join the system on November 15, 2014, the date on which the new open enrollment period begins. In the first year of the ACA, UHC sold individual policies on only four state exchanges, but it plans to do so on at least two dozen in the second year.
The reason for the turnabout?
The answer, the bosses said, is that the marketplaces look sustainable, even without some of the reinsurance and risk-spreading backstops put in place for carriers in the first few years. They know the prices now, they said. They know the regulations. They know how consumers are behaving.This bodes well for future premium rate increases, as UHC's participation will insure greater competition among insurance companies and, thus, help to keep rates lower.
“We felt that the markets that we’re looking at now are much more established,” said Gail Boudreaux, who runs UnitedHealth Group’s insurance division.“We’ve always felt that it was part of our strategy and plan – that this is a good, long-term market.”
A recent paper by economists Leemore Dafny, Jonathan Gruber and Christopher Ody found that if UnitedHealthcare had sold policies through the exchanges this year in every state where it already does business, premiums would have been 5 percent lower.This is good news for the continued success of the Affordable Care Act.