Open enrollment begins today for plans on the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges. One of the central goals of the ACA was to give consumers easy access to affordable health insurance through state-operated marketplaces. The hope was that these marketplaces would provide a plethora of options for consumers to choose the health plan that best fit their needs while encouraging completion between insurance companies that would keep costs down.
However, this graphic from Vox shows that 960 counties, or 40% of the counties with Healthcare.gov exchanges, will only have one insurer offering plans on their exchanges. This is a stark increase from 2016, in which 182 counties faced such limited choices, a number that was down from 500 in 2014. Five states, Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming have only one remaining insurer. This follows the news this August that Aetna would cease to offer individual insurance plans in two thirds of the 778 counties in which their products were available on public exchanges. Furthermore, the available plans will be getting more expensive, with an average price hike of 25% in 2017.
Databyte via Sarah Kliff and Sarah Frostenson. Nearly 1,000 Healthcare.gov counties will have just one insurer next year, Vox. 16 Oct. 2016.