News Headlines Article

A good prognosis for the Affordable Care Act as UnitedHealth says goodbye
Washington Post

The Affordable Care Act’s critics seemed to get a shocking piece of new evidence when UnitedHealth Group, the country’s largest health insurer, announced last month that it would pull out of many ACA markets next year. In fact, the news is not all that shocking, and it is not a sign that the law is failing.

Though UnitedHealth is the country’s largest health insurer, it is not a dominant player in the marketplaces that the ACA set up for individual insurance buyers. It covers only about 6 percent of 12.7 million marketplace participants. United does not appear to have been very effective at competing to attract customers. An Urban Institute study found that United’s premiums tend to be higher than competitors’, perhaps because its plans offer wide networks of doctors, hospitals and other providers to choose from, which is expensive. Unsurprisingly, marketplace insurance buyers tend to pick lower-cost options. The Kaiser Family Foundation concluded that even if United stopped participating in all ACA marketplaces, premiums would go up about 1 percent overall.