Humana CEO: More exchange participation will lower prices


Now that there's an increase in insurer participation on more health insurance exchanges, the prices for all plans should decrease, says Humana CEO Bruce Broussard.

In particular, UnitedHealth's decision to enter 24 online marketplaces across the country with what it says will be affordable plans will drive down prices, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. "United is coming in. There is more competition coming into the marketplace," Broussard told Reuters. "It's going to make us all a little bit more competitive."

UnitedHealth opted to watch from the sidelines during the first year of exchange open enrollment and learn how the exchange markets play out.

Broussard added that Humana and other larger insurers this year are keeping their premiums within a 10 percent range of each other, whereas last year, exchange plan premiums varied greatly. For Humana, its plans will be available in 15 exchanges with premiums increasing by a range of three percent to 20 percent.

Despite his prediction of lower exchange costs next year, Broussard warned that expensive new specialty drugs could force insurers to raise premiums. In particular, he referenced the Gilead Sciences hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, which costs $84,000 total and about $1,000 per pill.

"We've had a great trend over the last couple of years in healthcare cost staying flat or decreasing," Broussard said. "If these drugs come out at the price they are, I think you are going to see a reversal of that."

The issue is particularly pressing for insurers with exchange plans since specialty drug use is expected to be higher among consumers enrolling in the marketplaces than those enrolled in commercial plans

To learn more:
- read the Reuters article

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