2017 OBAMACARE MARKETPLACE SLOWDOWN EXPECTED

 

Obamacare marketplaces in 2017 will likely see a “significant slowdown” in growth after two years of quick enrollment gains, S&P Global says.

Affordable Care Act marketplace enrollment for 2017 is forecast to be between 10.2 million and 11.6 million, the credit rating company said. That’s about the same as 2016 enrollment, which stood at 11.1 million consumers who signed up as of March 31.

“Our forecasted modest-to-negative growth is clearly a bump in the road, but doesn’t signal `game-over’ for the marketplace,” S&P said. “We expect 2017 to be one step forward in increasing penetration to the subsidy-eligible uninsured and off-marketplace population, but one step back for the nonsubsidized marketplace population,” it said.

About 85 percent of enrollees forecast to sign up for coverage in 2017—9.4 million enrollees—will be protected against premium increases because they receive income-based subsidies under the health-care law.

But about 1.5 million enrollees—15 percent of marketplace enrollees—don’t receive subsidies, and S&P expects a portion of them won’t re-enroll in 2017.

The coming year may be the most difficult for the health insurance marketplaces, as premiums are rising at much higher rates than the previous two years. Some of the largest insurers—UnitedHealth Group Inc., Aetna Inc., Humana Inc. and some Blue Cross Blue Shield plans—are withdrawing from many states due to mounting plan losses.

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