With open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges set to begin on Nov. 1 in most states, the COVID-19 pandemic — as is the case with nearly everything in 2020 — is expected to play a role. Health insurers had to decide when setting 2021 premiums whether to factor in a “COVID load,” while rising unemployment driven by the pandemic has the potential to boost sign-ups after two years of flat enrollment totals. Meanwhile, new federal data suggests that the individual insurance market has not only stabilized but is becoming more attractive to consumers.
A report released by the Trump administration on Oct. 19, which analyzed rates in the 36 states that use HealthCare.gov, found that the average premium paid by a 27-year-old for the second-lowest-cost silver plan will decline 2% for 2021, and 22 more plan issuers will offer coverage (see infographic, p. 6). That will mark three straight years of both declining average benchmark plan premiums and increasing issuer participation, CMS noted.