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ACA Exchange 2020 Final Rule Changes and Survey of Exchange Health Plan Participation and Expectations

By Clive Riddle, May 31, 2019 

Last month CMS issued their final rule with ACA benefit and payment parameters for 2020. Their changes for 2020 included: 

  • The method for calculation of premium assistance for lower-income enrollees (projected to lower the total amount of financial assistance provided by $900 million, when compared with 2019, and result in 100,000 fewer exchange enrollees in 2020.)
  • Allowing plans to make mid-year changes to their drug formularies
  • Allowing plans to implement cost-sharing requirements if enrollees choose a brand-name drug when a medically appropriate generic version of the drug is available (even when out-of-pocket spending maximum is reached)
  • Allowing plans to implement copayment accumulator programs for prescription drugs
  • Lowering user fees for the 2020 coverage year by half a percentage point
  • Increases maximum out-of-pocket spending limits by 3.2%, from $7,900 to $8,150 for individual plans and from $15,800 to $16,300 for family plans      


How will these changes, and overall market forces, impact health plan participation in the ACA exchanges for 2020? eHealth has just released survey results from 17 plans that collectively cover 80 million lives that participate in ACA exchanges, that found “more than twice as many insurers intend to increase plan offerings for 2020 as compared with 2019, with premiums holding fairly steady.”



Here’s some of their detailed findings: 

  • 45% intend to add to the number of ACA plans they'll offer in 2020, compared to 21% who did so for the 2019 plan year
  • 42% expect to raise premiums between 5 and 10 percent over 2019 rates. 33% do not expect to make any noteworthy changes to premiums, while 23% expect to reduce monthly premiums by 5 percent or more.
  • 69% said that sales during the last open enrollment period were within 10 percent of their expectations. 15% reported that sales outpaced expectations by 10 to 15 percent, while another 15% of said sales were 10 percent or more below expectations.
  • 71% said they are paying attention to public discussions about "Medicare for all" but don't expect major changes, compared to 67% in 2018



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