Plan Offerings and Consumer Choice in the Health Insurance Marketplaces
The 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded health insurance coverage in part by creating Health Insurance Marketplaces that offer subsidized private health insurance plans. Heading into its third year of existence, a number of questions remain regarding consumer demand for and experiences in these Marketplaces. This session will examine these issues regarding both the demand and supply sides for Marketplace insurance plans using administrative data on health insurance plan selections. In the Marketplaces, consumers can sign up for or switch plans during the annual open enrollment period, and issuers also have an opportunity to exit, enter, or change their service areas or plan designs each year. The first paper examines consumers’ plan choices, finding evidence that consumers are aware of the value of subsidies in the form of cost-sharing reductions. The second paper looks at variation in benefit design across plans and over time. In particular, it looks at trends in deductibles and to what extent plans offer benefits beyond the minimum required “essential health benefits.” The third paper focuses on issuer participation and plan pricing, using plan data to determine what market characteristics are associated with changes in participation and examine the distribution of premium prices in these new health insurance markets. The papers in this panel provide a unique perspective on Marketplace dynamics because they combine the publicly available plan information with administrative data on individual-level and plan-level enrollment.