Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in early 2010, states have been using the federal marketplace exchange so their residents can enroll in and manage their health care plans. However, the past several years have seen a growing number of states developing and launching their own location-specific marketplaces.
New Jersey and Pennsylvania are the most recent additions to the list of fourteen states with their own health care marketplace exchange. Six other states have hybrid exchanges where their state-specific program is hosted on the central federal platform.
The Center on Health Insurance Reform (CHIR) projects that these hybrid exchanges will be the next to transition to a true, 100% local marketplace. More lawmakers are seeing benefits in having their own marketplace. State officials cite an increased focus on cost savings, the ability to implement new and innovative programming, and improved autonomy for subscribers and providers as the highest priorities for making the switch.
Early numbers suggest that these smaller marketplaces are actually yielding an increase in new enrollments. For example, researchers looked at the numbers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the two most recent states to transition. Results showed that New Jersey’s figures had increased by over 20% and Pennsylvania saw nearly a 10% uptick in new subscribers.
It is also important to note that these newest additions took other measures to ensure the success of their marketplaces. These include launching a reinsurance program that lowered premiums for all subscribers and reenacting a statewide mandate that all individuals must have health insurance coverage.
While this boom and its benefits are surely advantages of branching out to a new marketplace, analysts at CHIR warn of the undertaking this involves. Marketplaces require customer service staff, advisors, insurance counselors, financial analysts, and much more staff simply to get off the ground. The number of this staff will only grow once the marketplace launches and begins gaining traction, as staff will need to grow in accordance with an increase in subscribers.
Regardless of whether your state has plans to transfer their own marketplace or not, insurance companies should respond in a like manner with preparation and programming. Companies should build up their own networks to ensure they can manage a potential surge of new subscribers and adequately serve their existing members during the transition phase.