Survey: Insurers have 'cautious commitment' to ObamaCare market

Survey: Insurers have 'cautious commitment' to ObamaCare market
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A new survey finds that insurers have a “cautious commitment” to remaining in the ObamaCare marketplaces next year, despite uncertainty from the Trump administration. 

The survey from consulting firm Oliver Wyman finds that 96 percent of insurers surveyed said they plan to remain in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces next year. 

The research “reveals that the vast majority of health insurers remain committed to the ACA exchanges, but with some adjustments in strategy and continued watchfulness,” according to the report. 

Still, Republicans’ pending decision on ObamaCare payments known as cost-sharing reductions creates a major source of uncertainty for the market. President Trump last week threatened to cancel the payments, creating chaos in the market, in an effort to bring Democrats to the negotiating table. 

The payments reimburse insurers who cover low-income customers. Without the payments, insurers could leave markets or increase premiums.

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Congressional Democrats are now demanding that Congress fund the payments to provide certainty for the market. 

A decision on those cost-sharing reduction payments could cause insurers to rethink their participation.

“If there is definitive action on cost sharing subsidies or other policy proposals, payers may revisit their 2018 positions,” the Oliver Wyman report finds. 

Still, the study adds that, at least in the short-term, "issuers seem willing to continue to serve this market.”

Given the uncertainty, many insurers are waiting until closer to their decision deadline in June to set premiums for next year. 

Of those that did respond, half plan on rate increases of 10 to 20 percent. A quarter plan for increases of less than 10 percent, and another quarter plan increases of more than 20 percent.