Michigan: WOW! 18 insurance companies file for 2nd Year exchange

Hat Tip To: 
Steve Ciccarelli

As I noted last week, the whole "Obamacare is socialism!!" mantra, which was always stupid in the first place, looks even sillier now with the news coming in from state after state that more and more private insurance companies are jumping into the ACA exchange pool. Now comes news from my own state of Michigan that the number on the exchange for the 2015 open enrollment season will climb from 13 to a whopping 18:

LANSING — Additional insurers are asking to join Michigan's Health Insurance Marketplace.

The state said today that it has received filing information from 18 health insurance companies wanting to be included in 2015 — five more than participated last year.

Department of Insurance and Financial Services Director Ann Flood said state residents seeking coverage through the marketplace will have even more plans to choose from and that "increased competition helps keep premiums lower."

The article lists all 18 companies; the new additions include the Grand Valley Health Plan, Harbor Health, Physicians Health Plan, Time Insurance Co. and United Healthcare.

As an aside, the Crain's article does have one statement which is a bit misleading:

Figures released a few weeks ago showed 468,000 eligible to enroll.

Well, no. There's around 468,000 Michigan residents who are eligible for subsidies from the ACA exchange (KFF.org actually estimated this number as being closer to 521,000), but there's nothing preventing those with higher incomes (that is, those who make too much to qualify for subsidies) from signing up through Healthcare.gov. It's a bit silly to do so, since the process involves jumping through an extra hoop or two vs. just signing up for the exact same plan directly through the insurance company.

Why would someone with a higher income do so through the exchange, then? Well, what if you're self-employed (one of the main bases of the individual insurance market in the first place), andy your income is highly variable? Your estimated income might fall just above the subsidy level, but you might enroll through the exchange anyway just in case you end up having a lousy year and the actual income drops into the subsidy level.

Anyway, this is yet more evidence that one of the anti-ACA talking points ("There won't be enough competition to keep premium rates in check!!") can be stricken from the list of criticisms.