The Future of Health Insurance in the U.S.

Jul 17, 13 The Future of Health Insurance in the U.S.

By Martha C. Rivera, Director of Strategy and Insights

Everybody within the advertising and marketing industries as well as the government knows that health insurance is the hot topic these days. After waiting for nearly three years to see the various controversies related to “Obamacare” to be resolved, our country has suddenly arrived at the time to implement – the time to wait is over. The State Exchanges, the key tool for implementing the Affordable Care Act, should be live by Oct. 1, while open enrollment should begin in January 2014.

Consequently, each state’s health department among others, health insurance companies, advertising agencies, digital services providers, media planners and many others are currently focusing extensive work on laborious and complex projects aimed to successfully meeting these fast-approaching deadlines. What will come next?

“The Health Exchanges represent an unprecedented structural change to how people can buy health insurance, which has no known precedent in the world,” says George L. San Jose, president and chief creative officer at The San Jose Group. “Several important changes are to be expected in the mid and long terms in the U.S. healthcare. With the ACA, the new marketplace will have an estimated additional 33 million health care-card carrying members, who will now have unprecedented access to any health care provider they choose. I think of it as 33 million consumers who will now have a credit card in their hands that would allow them to purchase quality care from any provider.”  

Will Health Insurance Monopolies come to an end?

One of the main objectives of the health care reform, as it was communicated to the American public before the ACA was signed, was to help decrease health care costs by offering consumers a broader portfolio of choices on insurance policies, which would deliberately stimulate competition on service and costs. That’s where the Exchanges play a critical role: they are the vehicles for the regular citizens to have the opportunities to evaluate multiple options before enrolling in a particular health care plan.

Predicting that one of the key outcomes of the reform would be reducing monopolies is an old topic. However, some additional considerations are worth discussing, including where those monopolies are going to be reduced, on which specific insurance lines and to which extent.

Currently, some states seem to be achieving the monopoly-reduction objective, while some others are countering the initiative. For instance, the California Exchange (called Covered California), will have 13 participant insurers, while the New Hampshire Exchange only will have 1.

“The size of the market is one of the key factors determining whether companies might be interested in participating in a particular state’s Exchange,” said San Jos. “States with high percentages of minority populations are an interesting market for health insurance companies, as about 24 million multicultural people are currently uninsured. They represent nearly 50% of the total uninsured in the country.”

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