“We do have a bias to increase that participation in 2015,” Gail Boudreaux, executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group said. “The size of the overall market is positive.”
Cigna has expressed similar willingness to expand its offerings for 2015. The Bloomfield, Conn.-based company was active in five exchanges this year. "We have a bias to extend, but it's (to be determined) right now,” David Cordani, Cigna's president and CEO, said earlier this month, according to Reuters. “There is a lot of work to be done over the next couple of months.”
In addition, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans to compete in insurance exchanges in South Dakota and Iowa in 2015, after sitting out the initial enrollment period. The company cited risk-adjustment protections included in the federal healthcare law as one of the reasons for its willingness to take a chance on the emerging markets.
Some start-up, not-for-profit insurers have plans to expand into neighboring states in 2015. The marketplaces in West Virginia, Idaho and New Hampshire will all have new not-for-profit competitors seeded with grants or loans under the reform law's Consumer-Operated and Oriented Plan program.
Several other states have indicated that they expect more competing plans in 2015, but aren't yet naming firms. Among those: Washington, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Michigan and California.
“We have seen interest from at least two companies that would like to come into the marketplace and are working very diligently to be prepared to do that,” Bill Nold, deputy executive director of the Office of the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange, said on a call with reporters last week organized by Families USA, a consumer-advocacy group that has championed the healthcare law.
Officials in other states said that it's still too early to know whether there will be more competition in 2015. David Gonzales, executive director of the Texas Association of Health Plans, said that 12 companies sold products in the state in 2014, with an average of three to five competitors in each market. But he doesn't know how the next enrollment period will compare.
“I know there are deadlines quickly approaching,” Gonzales said. “Our plans have not given me any indication, nor do I think they've given anybody else any indication, about how they plan to approach 2015.”
There has been considerable speculation that premiums could increase by double digits next year. But research by David Axene, a fellow of the Society of Actuaries, suggests that increases in the realm of 6% to 8.5% are more likely—which is in line with rate hikes in recent years.