Comparing Individual Health Coverage On and Off the Affordable Care Act’s Insurance Exchanges

Source: Michael J. McCue and Mark A. Hall, Commonwealth Fund, Issue Brief, August 2015

From the abstract:
The new health insurance exchanges are the core of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) reforms, but how the law improves the nonsubsidized portion of the individual market is also important. This issue brief compares products sold on and off the exchanges to gain insight into how the ACA’s market reforms are functioning. Initial concerns that insurers might seek to enroll lower-risk customers outside the exchanges have not been realized. Instead, more-generous benefit plans, which appeal to people with health problems, constitute a greater portion of plans sold off-exchange than those sold on-exchange. Although insurers that sell mostly on the exchanges incur an additional fee, they still devote a greater portion of their premium dollars to medical care. Their projected administrative costs and profit margins are lower than are those of insurers selling only off the exchanges.