For decades, the predominant way for Americans to purchase health insurance has been through the group health insurance market; you get coverage through work.
But then, enter the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). The ACA changed the rules by making individual health insurance guaranteed-issue, discounted, and easier to buy.
As a result, experts have been predicting huge growth in the individual market. Are the predictions coming true? A recent analysis by Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) suggests yes, to the tune of a 46 percent increase from 2013 to 2014.
The Rise of the Individual Market
According to KFF’s recent analysis, the individual market is undergoing significant growth.
To measure market growth, the report looked at 2014 filings by insurers to state insurance departments in order to compare enrollment in individual health plans previously (from 2010-2013).
The analysis found:
In the first full year of the Affordable Care Act Marketplaces (2014), the individual market grew 46 percent, to 15.5 million people.
Market growth varies by state. In six states (Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Maine, New York, and Rhode Island), the number of people covered in the individual market increased by more than 75 percent. Additionally, four states (California, Florida, Texas, and Georgia) accounted for almost half of the enrollment growth. On the flip side, Colorado and Massachusetts saw decreases in individual market enrollment.
Market growth is expected to continue in 2015 and beyond, though at a slower pace. As of the end of open enrollment for 2015, 11.7 million people had signed up for Marketplace coverage, an increase of 3.7 million over 2014.
As the individual market continues to grow, businesses are evaluating individual health insurance for their employees. Will individual health insurance ever take over the group market? S&P Capital IQ, a division of McGraw Hill Financial, predicts that 90% of S&P companies will transition employees to the individual market and government exchanges by 2020. What do you think?