Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans, Preferred Choice of Consumers Shopping at Marketplace

Consumers shopping at the marketplace are cost-conscious, though they value brand names while selecting a health plan. As per a report of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute released this month, marketplace shoppers of health plans give utmost importance to brands. The report was prepared using the latest available data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which revealed that cost-focused consumers also give significance to brand names and broader provider networks while choosing health plans.

U.S. health care industry is served by some prominent healthcare brands, but the one that stand-out is the Blue Cross Blue Shield. This affiliated insurer roughly made up around 47% of marketplace enrollment in the year 2018, which was slightly down from 50% in the year 2017. In the year 2018, Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance company accounted for almost half of nation marketplace enrollment, despite Medicaid’s low premiums. The report stated that BCBS affiliates had the majority of marketplace enrollments in 11 states of the country.

BCBS insurance company holds the majority of marketplace enrollment in the states Alaska, Alabama, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming. It was also revealed by one of the authors of the report, Erik Wengle, that Blue Cross-affiliated insurers are the only participating insurers in a lot of areas of the country, particularly in rural areas. Though in recent years, this has somewhat changed and is likely to change more in the future, especially with more health insurance carriers entering the marketplaces.

However, in many places around the country, Blue Cross Blue Shield associates are the dominant insurance carriers in the individual market having strong brand recognition, also known for broad network providers. Due to which the health plans of the BCBS make an attractive and lucrative option for consumers. Besides these, BCBS carriers also have a good hold in the enrollment market of nine other states such as Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia. Though Medicaid insurers are also gaining market share in those states, as per the report. The dominance of Medicaid insurers is maintained in states like Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, and Texas, as per the report.

It is further revealed through the data that regional and national health insurance companies are the top enrollers of marketplace plans among the consumers of six states. Most of the largest and leading national health insurance companies like Aetna, Humana, and UnitedHealthcare have left non-group marketplaces from the country, but these companies along with some regional health insurers remain significant in some states.

A critical warning to the report was offered by the researchers on the portal of the Robert Wood Foundation, which stated that the data was collected before the COVID-19 influenced economic outcomes. COVID-19 crisis has led to wide-scale unemployment and the loss of employer-sponsored health plan and its associated economic fallout is expected to increase the marketplace enrollment. However, it is extremely difficult to predict with certainty about the future during this major crisis.

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