October 28, 2015
Switching plans resulted in significant savings for Marketplace consumers
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced today the findings of a new report that shows that consumers who reenrolled in the Health Insurance Marketplace last year and who switched to a plan with the same level of coverage saved nearly $33 per month after tax credits, or almost $400 annually, relative to what they would have paid had they remained in the same plan as in 2014. Those who also switched issuers within the same level of coverage were able to save $41 per month, or over $490 annually after tax credits.
Today’s report shows Marketplace consumers were active shoppers last year, with about one third (31 percent) of re-enrollees from 2014 switching to a new plan for 2015.
During Open Enrollment in the Marketplace this coming year, if all consumers switched from their current plan to the lowest-cost premium plan in the same metal level, consumers could save an average of $610 annually before tax credits and the total savings - to consumers and taxpayers (in premiums and tax credits) - would be more than $4 billion. For 2016, more than 8 in 10 current Marketplace enrollees can find a lower premium plan in the same metal level before tax credits by returning to shop. Last year, HHS projected that if all returning consumers who bought a silver plan in 2014 switched to the lowest-cost silver plan in 2015, they would have saved an average of $492 annually. If all returning consumers had switched to the lowest-cost plan within their metal level, across all metal levels, the total savings in premiums would have been over $2 billion before tax credits.
“Our message to returning Marketplace customers is simple: Shopping may save you money,” Burwell said. “Consumers who visited HealthCare.gov last year to comparison shop for the best plan saved almost $400 a year in premiums for the same level of coverage, and we expect people to be able to find similar deals for 2016. Consumers can visit HealthCare.gov today to preview plans in their area before Open Enrollment begins on November 1.”
Today’s findings underscore that the Marketplace offers a competitive insurance market from which consumers can choose affordable health plans based on their specific needs and budget. It also shows that consumers using HealthCare.gov are smart shoppers, who pay close attention to plan costs when making selections.
According to the report, historical estimates of plan switching among enrollees in employer sponsored insurance (2.8 percent), the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (12 percent) and Medicare Drug Plans (13 percent) are low compared to Marketplace consumers.
Today’s report also finds that more consumers switched issuers than metal level, suggesting they preferred to keep the same level of coverage. Specifically, 57 percent of switchers changed issuers in 2015, while only 38 percent changed metal level.
(Health insurance plans on the Marketplace are classified by metal level, which range from bronze, with the lowest premiums but the highest deductibles and co-pays, to platinum with the highest premiums and lowest deductibles and co-pays.)
HealthCare.gov offers detailed information about each health insurance plan sold in an area, including out-of-pocket costs, customer service and more. Consumers can visit the 2016 health insurance plans and prices tool on HealthCare.gov and use the new total yearly out-of-pocket cost estimator to learn more about their specific costs.
Finally, the report confirms the popularity of silver plans. Among reenrolling consumers with 2014 silver level plans, the majority (91 percent) stayed in silver plans in 2015. Enrollment in silver level plans is much higher than other metal level plans—69 percent of enrollees chose a silver plan in 2014. Silver plans appeal to many consumers because, generally, eligible consumers must enroll in a silver plan in order to apply their cost-sharing reduction (approximately 85 percent of silver enrollees in states using the HealthCare.gov platform received cost-sharing reductions in 2015).
The 10 states with the highest annual savings from switching were: Florida, Texas, North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Arizona, Indiana and Georgia.
Open Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace starts on November 1, 2015 and runs through January 31, 2016. Sign up by December 15 to have coverage that starts January 1. You can find help by calling 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325) 24/7 or find free, confidential in-person assistance in your local area by visiting localhelp.healthcare.gov.
To read today’s report and to see state by state information on consumer choices visit: http://aspe.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/134556/Consumer_decisions_10282015.pdf