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Indiana health insurance marketplace: history and news of the state’s exchange

CareSource and Celtic/Ambetter have both expanded their coverage areas; average rates up 2.6% for 2019

Recent Indiana exchange news

Indiana exchange overview

State legislative efforts to preserve or strengthen provisions of the Affordable Care Act

Indiana is among the states that have done the least to preserve the Affordable Care Act’s gains.

Indiana relies on the federally-facilitated exchange, so residents enroll through Four carriers offered plans in the Indiana exchange for 2017, but Anthem and MDwise left at the end of the year. Celtic/Ambetter and CareSource remained in the exchange for 2018 and are continuing to offer plans for 2019.

Open enrollment for 2019 coverage began November 1, 2018, and ended on December 15, 2018. This is the same as the open enrollment schedule that was used for 2018, but much shorter than the enrollment periods used in previous years. All plans selected during open enrollment take effect on January 1, and there’s no longer an opportunity to switch plans after the start of the year, unless you have a qualifying event.

166,711 people enrolled in coverage during the open enrollment period for 2018 coverage. That was about 4.5 percent lower than the 174,611 enrollments the year before, but that decline has to be considered in conjunction with the fact that open enrollment was only half as long for 2018, and the Trump Administration slashed funding for exchange outreach and marketing in the weeks leading up to open enrollment (this happened again in 2018, with even more substantial funding cuts in advance of the open enrollment period for 2019 coverage). By mid-2018, effectuated enrollment in Indiana’s exchange stood at 141,003 people.

2019 rates and plans

Open enrollment for 2019 health plans ended on December 15, 2018. All plans selected during open enrollment will take effect January 1, 2019.

Indiana residents with a qualifying life event may still be able to enroll in an ACA-compliant plan outside of open enrollment.

Both exchange insurers in Indiana have expanded their coverage areas for 2019, giving people in most counties the option to pick from either insurer. That makes it especially important for people to actively shop during open enrollment, as they may find that they have new options available for 2019. But it also means that premium subsidy amounts are very different in many areas (generally smaller, as described below), so it’s important for enrollees to avoid letting their coverage auto-renew, since lower premium subsidies can mean that the same plan ends up with a significantly higher net premium.

Insurers that wished to offer health insurance in Indiana’s individual market in 2019 had to file rates and forms by June 20, 2018. The next day, the Indiana Department of Insurance published an overview of the proposed rate changes for 2019. At that point, the average filed rate increase for 2019 was just 5.1 percent, which was far smaller than the rate hikes that applied for 2018.

But in August, CareSource submitted a revised rate filing, asking for an average rate increase only about half as large as they had originally requested (all of the details, including the updated filing, can be seen in SERFF, under the filing number CASO-131492562). That brought the average rate increase down to 2.6 percent in Indiana’s individual market, and those rates were finalized.

  • CareSource: 5.4 percent. CareSource is offering coverage in 79 counties in 2019, up from 75 in 2018. Their filing notes that they have 76,231 members in 2018.
  • Ambetter/Celtic: 0.5 percent decrease. Ambetter is offering coverage in all 92 counties in Indiana in 2019, up from 43 in 2018. Their filing shows an enrollment of 65,951 members.

Total effectuated enrollment in Indiana’s exchange stood at 141,003 as of mid-2018. The membership numbers in the filings indicate that there are very few people enrolled in ACA-compliant off-exchange plans in Indiana.

Anthem, which only offers an off-exchange catastrophic plan in Benton, Jasper, Newton, Warren, and White counties, filed an 8.4 percent average increase for 2019, which was approved. But they are only projecting 10 enrollees in that plan for 2019, so they’re essentially a non-entity in Indiana’s ACA-compliant individual market.

For 2018, Indiana was one of only five states where the cost of cost-sharing reductions (CSR) was added to premiums at all metal levels, as opposed to just silver plans (Colorado, West Virginia, Deleware, and Mississippi were the other states where the cost of CSR was added to the premiums for all plans). The Indiana Department of Insurance confirmed by email in June that they had not instructed insurers on how to add the cost of CSR for 2019, and were allowing insurers to make their own determination about how to incorporate it into the rates they file for 2019.

However, CareSource’s filing says “The Indiana DOI allowed the CSR subsidy non-payment to be spread across all on- and off-exchange plans equally in the single risk pool, and prefers consistency across all carriers.” (ie, keeping the broad load approach that was used for 2018). As such, Indiana is one of just three states continuing to use the broad load approach for 2019 (the other two are West Virginia and Mississippi, as Delaware and Colorado have switched to adding the cost of CSR only to silver plan rates).

Adding the cost of CSR to silver plans (in particular, to only on-exchange silver plan) is the most beneficial approach for consumers. It results in larger premium subsidies, since the subsidies are based on keeping the cost of the second-lowest-cost silver plan at an affordable level. Those larger premium subsidies benefit everyone who gets premium subsidies (in 2018, that’s 68 percent of the exchange enrollees in Indiana), including people who buy non-silver plans. In that case, the larger premium subsidies make those plans even more affordable than they would otherwise be. And for people who do want silver plans, the larger subsidies offset the cost of CSR that’s been added to the premiums. People who don’t qualify for premium subsidies can buy non-silver plans, or, if the cost of CSR has only been added to on-exchange silver plans, they can buy an off-exchange silver plan without having to pay the extra CSR cost as part of their premiums.

A 40-year-old in Boone County (Indianapolis area) earning $30,000 will qualify for a $171/month subsidy in 2019. His after-subsidy premium will range from $180/month to $422/month, depending on the plan he selects. But the ultra-low-cost bronze plans that are available after subsidies in many parts of the country are not available in Indiana, because the cost of CSR has been spread across all plans, eliminating the possibility of disproportionately large premium subsidies.

If that same 40-year-old lives in Ripley County, he’ll have options from both insurers in 2019, whereas only CareSource offered plans for 2018. But his subsidy will only be $35/month and his after-subsidy premium will range from $199/month to $480/month, depending on the plan he picks. In 2018, a 40-year-old in Ripley County earning $30,000 was eligible for a premium subsidy of $127/month, and could pick from plans with premiums (after the subsidy was applied) that ranged from $162/month to $342/month.

In Spencer County in southern Indiana, a 40-year-old earning $30,000 in 2018 qualified for a subsidy of $93/month. The cheapest plan available to him was a CareSource Bronze $7,250 deductible for $166/month after the subsidy. In 2019, if he is now 41 but still earning $30,000, he’ll qualify for a $59/month subsidy. But if he keeps that CareSource Bronze plan (which now has a deductible of $7,400) he’ll be paying $222/month in premiums. In order to get the cheapest available plan in 2019, he needs to switch to Ambetter/Celtic’s Essential Care 2 HSA, which as a $6,650 deductible and costs $198/month. And even still, that’s more expensive than the lowest-cost bronze plan was in 2018, after the subsidy.

In all cases, the after-subsidy cost of the benchmark plan is very similar from 2018 to 2019 (slightly higher, but the difference is only a few dollars in most cases). The lower premium subsidy and higher after-subsidy rates in 2019 are due to Ambetter/Celtic’s lower prices, and the fact that there’s no longer as much of a difference (pre-subsidy) between the cost of the benchmark plan and the cost of the lowest-priced plan.

In areas where Ambetter/Celtic has entered the market, they’ve generally priced their plans below the prices of the existing plans, which means the benchmark rates are lower for 2019. That results in lower subsidies, because the subsidies don’t need to be as large in order to get the after-subsidy premium for the benchmark plan down to an affordable level. But it also means that people in some parts of Indiana need to be particularly careful when renewing their coverage for 2019, as their subsidy might be a lot smaller than what they were getting in 2018.

This is not the case statewide, though. Across all of Indiana, the average benchmark premium is unchanged from 2018, which means that average premium subsidy amounts across the whole state are very similar to what they were in 2018. But as you can see from the examples above, that varies widely from one area to another, and consumers in all areas are best served by comparing their options during open enrollment and picking the plan that best fits their needs, as opposed to relying on auto-renewal.

Anthem and MDwise exited the exchange after 2017; Celtic/Ambetter and CareSource remained. All counties had at least one insurer.

For insurers that wished to offer coverage in Indiana’s individual market in 2018, proposed rates and plans had to be filed by June 21, 2017. The Indiana Department of Insurance posted filed rates on their website.

Based on filings at that point, there were four counties in Indiana where no insurers were planning to offer coverage in the exchange: Decatur, Jackson, Wayne, Grant. But in early August, CareSource agreed to remain in Grant, Decatur, and Jackson counties. Wayne County did not have any insurers slated to offer coverage at that point, but by mid-August, Celtic/Ambetter had agreed to offer coverage in Wayne County (Wayne County has 67,000 residents, and 1,166 of them enrolled in exchange plans for 2017). Celtic/Ambetter’s revised filing also included coverage for Decatur and Jackson counties, although CareSource was the only insurer that filed to offer coverage in Grant County. CareSource later submitted a revised filing that included Wayne County — so although Wayne County residents were initially facing the prospect of having no insurers in the exchange in 2018, they ended up having two (CareSource and Celtic/Ambetter).

Anthem and MDwise, both of which offered plans statewide in the exchange in 2017, opted to leave the exchange at the end of 2017. According to the Indy Star, 46,000 Indiana residents had exchange plans from Anthem in 2017, and 30,800 had exchange plans from MDwise.

MDwise exited the individual market altogether. But Anthem continued to offer just one off-exchange catastrophic plan in five counties (Benton, Newton, White, Jasper, and Warren), and they anticipated that only 15 members would have coverage under that plan as of 2018. This is the same strategy that Anthem used in Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Nevada; by keeping one off-exchange plan, the insurer prevented a statewide market exit, which would preclude a return to the state’s individual market for five years under federal rules that predate the ACA. With the off-exchange plan still available in a small portion of the state, Anthem maintained the option to return to the Indiana market at any time in the future, should they choose to do so.

For Anthem’s remaining off-exchange plan, they proposed a 48.3 percent rate increase, which was approved by state regulators. And since the plan is only offered off-exchange and is a catastrophic plan, ACA subsidies aren’t available to offset some of the cost. According to Anthem’s rate filing (worksheet 2 in the Unified Rate Review Template), they had 64,687 members in 2017, and a projected membership of just 15 people in 2018. The dramatic decline is due to a combination of their exchange exit and their exit from nearly every county off-exchange, in addition to the steep rate increase they’ve proposed for their remaining off-exchange coverage and the fact that it’s a catastrophic plan, which is only available to people under 30 and those who qualify for a hardship exemption from the ACA’s individual mandate penalty.

So all of MDwise’s individual market enrollees and virtually all of Anthem’s individual market enrollees lost their coverage at the end of 2017.

Between the two insurers, more than 100,000 people in Indiana saw their plans terminated at the end of 2017. More than three-quarters of those members had on-exchange plans, and the exchange picked replacement plans for them if they didn’t select their own new plan during open enrollment. Anyone whose coverage terminated at the end of December was eligible for a special enrollment period through March 1, 2018, regardless of whether they were mapped to a new plan by the exchange or not.

Approved 2018 rate changes much higher due to CSR load, which was spread across all plans, not just silver

CareSource and Ambetter/Celtic both filed rates for 2018 coverage in the exchange. In early October, the Indiana Department of Insurance published the approved average rate changes, which were unchanged from the revised rate proposals that insurers filed in August.

Notably, the approved rate changes were based on the assumption that funding for cost-sharing reductions (CSR) would not continue in 2018. The filings that the insurers had submitted earlier in the year were based on the assumption that CSR funding would continue, so the revised rate changes were significantly larger. Coincidentally, the Trump Administration announced later that same day that federal funding for CSR would end immediately.

CSR benefits continue to be available. Their funding was eliminated, but insurers are still required to offer the benefits to eligible enrollees, which is why the rates for 2018 ended up being higher than they would otherwise have been. The cost is being added to premiums, but nothing has changed about the availability of CSR for people who select silver plans and have eligible incomes (between 139 and 250 percent of the poverty level).

Also noteworthy is Indiana’s approach to handling the higher premiums necessary to cover the cost of CSR: Regulators instructed the insurers to apply the resulting additional premium increase across all ACA-compliant plans, on and off-exchange. In most states, the higher cost was applied only to silver plans, as CSR is only available for people who select silver plans (an analysis of the various ways states and insurers are handling CSR funding uncertainty is available here). If the additional load is confined to silver plans, it results in larger premium subsidies for everyone who gets subsidies, while holding down prices on other metal level plans to provide more affordable options for enrollees who don’t get subsidies.

Ultimately, only a few other states (Colorado, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Delaware) opted to add the cost of CSR to all plans, rather than confining it to silver level plans.

The average approved rate increases were:

  • CareSource: 20 percent. CareSource had originally proposed an average rate increase of just 2.2 percent, but that was based on the assumption that CSR funding would continue in 2018. The rate changes were projected to impact 37,469 enrollees, and vared from a decrease of 9 percent to an increase of 39 percent (the average was a 20 percent increase). CareSource’s plan filing indicated that they would offer exchange plans in 75 of Indiana’s 92 counties in 2018.
  • Ambetter/Celtic: 35.7 percent. Celtic had initially proposed a 24 percent average rate increase, based on the assumption that CSR funding would continue. The revised filing, submitted in August, was based on the assumption that CSR funding would not continue. Celtic’s rate increase was projected to impact 12,456 enrollees, according to the major medical experience workbook in Celtic’s rate filing. In 2017, Celtic offered plans in 12 of Indiana’s 17 rating areas (all except rating areas 5, 8, 9, 12, and 14) but their plans were not available in every county in each rating area. For 2018, Centene, Celtic’s parent insurer, announced that they would be expanding their coverage area in Indiana, adding 11 additional counties; their service area now includes 49 of Indiana’s 92 counties.

Based on 2017 membership for CareSource and Celtic, the approved weighted average rate increase is 23.9 percent. When rates were initially proposed and the assumption was that CSR funding would continue, the weighted average proposed rate increase was just 7.7 percent.

The weighted average rate increase didn’t account for the fact that the majority of the exchange enrollees in Indiana had to switch to a different plan for 2018, due to the departure of Anthem and MDwise from the exchange.

And due to Indiana regulators’ decision to add the additional cost to cover CSR to all plans (as opposed to just silver plans), there is no way for people who don’t get premium subsidies to escape the additional cost that’s been added to cover the cost of CSR.

The Indiana Department of Insurance noted that their decision to spread the load across all plans was an effort to keep the price variations between each metal level somewhat consistent, so that silver plans would still be less expensive than gold plans, for example. But the result is that there was no way for people who don’t get premium subsidies to escape the additional cost, as it is built into all plans, both on and off-exchange (Anthem does not participate in the exchange in Indiana in 2018, but is offering an off-exchange-only Catastrophic plan in rating area 5; other than that, there are not any off-exchange plans available without the CSR load, and Anthem’s rate filing noted that they only expected 15 enrollees in 2018)

But the nature of the ACA’s premium subsidies means that they increase when the cost of coverage in a given area increases, and that protected most Indiana exchange enrollees from having to bear the full brunt of the rate hikes. 73 percent of Indiana exchange enrollees were receiving premium subsidies in 2017, and their subsidies grew in 2018 in order to keep the second-lowest-cost silver plan at an affordable level in each area.

Subsidies are only available to people with income up to 400 percent of the poverty level however, and they aren’t available to people who are impacted by the family glitch, or those who purchase coverage outside the exchange. A family of four is eligible for premium subsidies in 2018 with a household income as high as $98,400.

2017 enrollment

174,611 people enrolled in private plans through the Indiana exchange during the 2017 open enrollment period (November 1, 2016 through January 31, 2017). That was an 11 percent decrease from the 196,242 who had enrolled during the 2016 open enrollment period. The majority of the states that use saw a decrease in enrollment from 2016 to 2017, but Indiana’s was more than double the average decrease.

218,617 people enrolled through the Indiana exchange during the 2015 open enrollment period, making 2017 the second year-over-year decline in enrollment. However, the decline in 2016 was likely due to the fact that Medicaid expansion in Indiana didn’t take effect until 2015 (February 2015 was the earliest available effective date), so people who are now enrolled in Medicaid were instead enrolled in heavily subsidized QHPs through the exchange in early 2015, and have transitioned to Medicaid since then. Medicaid enrollment as of December 2016 was 34 percent higher in Indiana than it had been at the end of 2013.

By March 2017, effectuated enrollment in the Indiana exchange stood at 146,956 (effectuated enrollment is always lower than the number of initial sign-ups, because some enrollees don’t pay their initial premiums, and others opt to cancel their coverage early in the year).

2017: Benchmark premiums decreased, but networks also shrank

Detailed rate changes for each carrier are described in the next section, but Indiana is notable in that it’s one of only two states where the average benchmark (second-lowest-cost silver) plan premium is lower in 2017 than it was in 2016.

Average benchmark rates in Indiana are 3 percent lower in 2017, while the average across all states was a 22 percent increase. For a 27-year-old, the average benchmark plan in Indiana is just $229/month (before subsidies) in Indiana, versus $296/month across all states.

But in order to get the lower rates, or even to avoid a significant rate increase, many enrollees had to pick a different plan for 2017. The plans available in 2017 are all HMOs with narrower networks than some enrollees were used to having. And Anthem, with has the most name-brand recognition, has the highest premiums.

Subsidies are tied to the price of the benchmark plan, so average subsidies are slightly smaller in Indiana in 2017. That means enrollees who weren’t willing to switch plans ended up, in some cases, bearing the full brunt of their existing plan’s rate increase, since subsidies didn’t keep pace with the rate increases on the more expensive plans.

For residents in Indiana, shopping around for the best value during open enrollment was more important than ever heading into 2017. Half of the 2016 carriers exited the exchange, and plans shuffled around in terms of pricing.

2017 rates and carriers: 4 carriers left, 4 remained

Four 2016 insurers—All Savers (UnitedHealthcare), Southeastern Indiana Health Organization, Physicians Health Plan, and Indiana University Health Plans — exited the market in Indiana at the end of 2016, and are not offering coverage in 2017.

IU Health Plans made their announcement in late September 2016, a month after state regulators had approved a 14.9 percent rate increase for 2017 (higher than the initially-requested 9.9 percent rate increase that IU Health plans filed in the spring). Enrollees who selected new plans from MDwise or CareSource still have access to IU providers in 2017, as those plans have IU in their networks.

IU Health Plans had about 27,500 people with individual market coverage when rates were filed in May 2016. All of them who had their plans through the exchange needed to select new plans for 2017 (for the first time, was able to map people to new plans for 2017 if their existing insurer exited the exchange and the enrollee didn’t return to the exchange to select a new plan). IU Health Plans is continuing to offer off-exchange plans in 2017, and their employer-sponsored and Medicare Advantage plans were not impacted by their decision to exit the exchange.

Physicians Health Plan is a not-for-profit, and they noted that their decision to drop out of the individual market — including plans sold through — was a difficult one. But ultimately, their costs were running about $1.20 for every dollar in premiums collected on individual market plans, and the outlay was unsustainable. About 6,500 people had PHP coverage through in 2016, and needed new plans as of January 2017.

The Indiana Department of Insurance confirmed that Aetna filed rate proposals to join the Indiana exchange for 2017, and was planning to have coverage options available both on and off-exchange when open enrollment began on November 1, 2016. But that plan was scuttled in early August, when Aetna announced that they were not going to expand into any new exchanges for 2017.

For the four remaining carriers that are offering plans in the Indiana exchange in 2017, approved average rate changes were announced in late August, and are as follows:

  • Anthem BCBS: 29 percent increase (largest market share, with around 73,000 enrolled in 2016)
  • CareSource Indiana: 16.1 percent increase
  • Celtic (Ambetter): 5.3 percent decrease (16,500 current enrollees)
  • MDwise: 11.5 percent increase

Golden Rule initially submitted a rate proposal on May 11, 2016, but withdrew it on May 23. PHP had filed a proposal for a 25 percent average increase, but announced their exit from the individual market in late August. Coordinated Care continues to have one platinum plan available, off-exchange, in 2017. They had a single platinum plan available off-exchange in 2016, and it was not actively marketed.

There are no PPO options available in the individual market in Indiana in 2017. Ambetter has an EPO that available in the exchange in 2017 (Ambetter plans are available in 32 of Indiana’s 92 counties). Anthem has a POS product both on and off the exchange. The other carriers that are participating in the individual market in Indiana have only HMO plans.

The rate changes for 2017 came on the heels of a very small average rate increase for 2016 — just 0.7 percent weighted average based on 2015 enrollments. And once people selected plans for 2016, the average pre-subsidy premium was actually lower than it was in 2015.

In 2015, 87 percent of Indiana exchange enrollees qualified for subsidies; their average pre-subsidy premium was $438 per month, although their average after-subsidy premium was only $120 per month. In 2016, only 81 percent of the state’s exchange enrollees qualified for subsidies. Their average pre-subsidy premium was lower than the year before, at $415 per month. But their average after-subsidy premium was higher, at $156 per month.

2016 enrollment

196,242 people had enrolled in private plans through the Indiana health insurance exchange during the 2016 open enrollment period. 34 percent of the enrollees were new to the Indiana exchange for 2016, and 81 percent were receiving premium subsidies to make their coverage affordable.

By March 31, effectuated enrollment stood at 168,884. By that point, nearly 83 percent of the effectuated enrollees were receiving premium subsidies that average $259 per month.

Open enrollment for 2016 ended on January 31. Open enrollment for 2017 will start on November 1, 2016, but until then, enrollment will only be available – on or off-exchange – for people who experience a qualifying event (Native Americans can enroll year-round, as can anyone eligible for Medicaid or CHIP).

Benchmark premiums lower in 2016

Indiana is one of just four states using where the average benchmark premium is lower in 2016 than it was in 2015. And the drop was more significant in Indiana than any of the other states, at 12.6 percent. In Indianapolis, the decline is 9.4 percent, according to Kaiser Family Foundation data. But benchmark premiums only tell part of the story, since the benchmark plan can change from one year to another, and it’s just one plan out of many that are offered in the exchange.

Ultimately, the result of the lower benchmark premiums is that subsidy amounts are also lower in 2016 than they were in 2015. And although average premiums only increased slightly in Indiana for 2016 (see below), there was still an overall increase, and it was rather significant on some plans. The weighted average rate increase for the entire exchange market was very small, but the actual rate changes on a per-plan basis vary from a 20 percent decrease to a 36 percent increase.

The fact that benchmark premiums – and thus subsidies – declined for 2016 made it particularly important for people to shop around during open enrollment. Otherwise, they may have found that their net premiums were more than they were expecting in 2016, due to declining subsidies.

0.7% weighted average rate increase for 2016

On September 1, 2015, the Indiana Department of Insurance posted a complete list of their individual and small group market carriers and their approved rate changes for 2016. The only thing missing from the list was market share data, which made it hard to calculate a weighted average rate change. So I contacted the Department of Insurance to see if I could obtain more information about market share. Here’s what they told me:

  • Roughly 85 percent of Indiana’s ACA-compliant individual plans had been sold through the exchange in 2015.
  • Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, (average rate increase of 3.8 percent for 2016) had about 65 percent of the on-exchange market share in 2015.
  • Humana exited the individual market in Indiana at the end of 2015 (their rate filing for 2016 had been withdrawn, but it wasn’t entirely clear what their status was). Humana didn’t participate in the exchange previously, so it was only the off-exchange market that they exited.
  • Across the 8 carriers that continued to offer plans in the exchange in Indiana, the Department of Insurance calculated an approved weighted average rate increase of 0.7 percent for 2016. They did that by utilizing SERFF data to obtain market share data. SERFF data is available to the public but can be quite time consuming to sort through.

Although Indiana’s average rate increase for 2016 is considerably lower than the national average, that also has to be viewed in light of the fact that premiums in Indiana were higher than the national average in 2014 and 2015.

According to a June 2015 analysis by the Indianapolis Business Journal, Anthem’s proposed 3.8 percent rate increase (which was approved as-requested) was expected to result in an average annual premium of $5,405 (pre-subsidy) in 2016, putting Anthem’s rates seventh highest out of nine (now eight) carriers selling plans in the exchange.

Given how price-sensitive consumers tend to be when shopping for health insurance, it’s unlikely that Anthem held onto its significant market share in 2016. This is compounded by the fact that Anthem eliminated broker commissions in Indiana (and several other states) for plans effective April 1 or later (ie, plans sold as a result of qualifying events).

In addition to Humana, Time/Assurance exited the market (nationwide) at the end of 2015. Unlike Humana, Time did offer plans in the exchange in 2015.

Coordinated Care appears on Indiana’s list of carriers as a new off-exchange carrier for 2016. Coordinated Care offered on-exchange plans in 2015, but they cross-walked all of their exchange business to Celtic Insurance for 2016. They came to an agreement with CMS that calls for them to maintain one ACA-compliant Coordinated Care plan, available outside the exchange. It’s a platinum plan, and they are not actively marketing it; the carrier did not project any sales for 2016 (they have once again filed rates for a single platinum plan to be available in 2017).

So realistically, the only Indiana carrier that is offering individual plans only outside the exchange in 2016 is UnitedHealthcare (although United’s subsidiary, All Savers, does offer on-exchange plans). But UnitedHealthcare is exiting the Individual Market entirely in Indiana at the end of 2016.’s rate review tool initially only showed proposed rate increases of ten percent or more prior to the start of open enrollment. It was notable that in Indiana, only one exchange carrier in the individual market proposed double digit rate hikes for 2016 (not counting Time and Humana, which both withdrew their filings). Physicians Health Plan of Northern Indiana requested an average rate increase of 14.5 percent for 2016, although regulators bumped that down slightly to 13.5 percent.

PHP cited the phasing out of the ACA’s reinsurance program, along with poorer-than-expected health among people who have already enrolled. This is the same general theme echoed nationwide by carriers justifying significant rate increase proposals for 2016.

Insurers have struggled with profitability in the exchange

As is the case nationwide, some carriers in the Indiana exchange are struggling to make a profit on their exchange business. In late November 2015, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported that about half of the carriers selling plans through the Indiana exchange are losing money in the process.

Indiana University Health Plans Inc. was nearly $2.7 million in the red for 2015, although the carrier received a $5 million capital contribution from its parent corporation, the IU Health hospital system. MDwise Marketplace Inc. lost nearly $615,000 from January through September 2015, and SIHO Insurance Services – which began offering exchange plans this year – was also losing money (they only had 536 enrollees in the exchange in 2015, so it’s not clear whether they were losing money on off-exchange business and other lines of coverage as well).

But the news is not all bad for insurers: CareSource Inc. has a net positive income of nearly $5 million in the Indiana exchange in 2015.

For 2014 and 2015, carriers were mostly making educated guesses in terms of pricing their policies. Premiums for 2016 were based on more than a full year of claims history, since they were filed in the spring of 2015, more than a year after the exchanges became operational. And when carriers filed rates for 2017, they had more than two years of claims data on which to based their rate justifications.

2015 enrollment

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 218,617 Hoosiers selected qualified health plans (QHPs) during 2015 open enrollment.

Attrition is a normal part of the individual health insurance market, particularly with the new system that limits enrollments for most people to a three-month window. In addition, has become more efficient at terminating coverage and/or subsidies for people who have failed to provide documentation to verify immigration status or eligibility for financial assistance. By the end of June 2015, in-force enrollment in private plans through the Indiana exchange stood at 167,261 people. 87.4 percent were receiving premium subsidies that average $315 per month. For 2015, total subsidies for Indiana residents amounted to $552 million.

With the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in June 2015 (King v. Burwell) that subsidies are legal in every state, regardless of whether the exchange is run by the state or federal government, subsidies are no longer in danger for those 146,000 people. The Kaiser Family Foundation had estimated that their premiums would have increased by 271 percent if the subsidies had been eliminated.

Not only will subsidies remain intact, but the individual market in Indiana will not be subject to the massive destabilization that would have occurred had the King plaintiffs prevailed and subsidies been eliminated. If that had happened, rates in the individual market for people who were already paying full price for their coverage would have increased by up to 90 percent, and the individual market pool size would have shrunk by 70 percent.

Modest increase in 2015 premiums

2015 premiums were an average of about five percent higher than 2014’s premiums, according to an Indiana Department of Insurance representative. A study by The Commonwealth Fund matched that estimate. The 2015 increase was much more modest than in the years leading up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

2015 carriers

Indiana residents had many more choices on the federal marketplace for 2015 that they did in 2014. The number of insurers more than doubled, going from four to nine. And, the number of available plans jumped from 278 to 975.

According to Atlantic Information Services, nine insurance companies offered individual health insurance through the Indiana marketplace in 2015. Anthem BCBS, Coordinated Care, and Physicians Health Plan returned from 2014. All Savers (UnitedHealthcare), Caresource, IU Healthplans, MDwise Marketplace, Southeastern Indiana Health Organization, and Time/Assurant were new for 2015. Note that not all insurers offer plans in all counties.

SHOP for small businesses

Businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees can now enroll online in the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). Small businesses can sign up on the SHOP throughout the year; there isn’t a specific open enrollment period like there is for the individual marketplace.

In Indiana and 13 other states that use the federal exchange, small employers were able to offer “employee choice” starting in 2015 (it was delayed until 2016 in the remaining states that use Under this option, employee can choose among health plans within a single metal level selected by the employer.

Penalties increase for going without coverage

The penalty for people who don’t have health insurance was higher in 2015 than it was in 2014, and will increase again for those who remain uninsured in 2016. For those who are uninsured in 2016 and not eligible for an exemption from the individual mandate, the penalty will be the greater of:

  • 2.5% of annual household income above the tax filing threshold. The maximum penalty under this calculation method is the national average premium for a bronze plan, which will be a little higher than it was in 2015.
  • $695 per adult or $347.50 per child under 18. The maximum penalty per family using this method is $2,085.

Use this penalty calculator to see how much you may have to pay if you don’t have health insurance.

How many people enrolled in 2014?

During 2014 open enrollment, 132,423 Hoosiers signed up for qualified health plans, according to federal government reports. Eighty-nine percent qualified for financial assistance. In addition, 95,495 people qualified for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) under existing eligibility rules (i.e., not through Medicaid expansion, as Indiana’s Medicaid expansion didn’t take effect until 2015).

Indiana’s uninsured rate dropped from 15.3 percent in 2013 to 13.6 percent in 2014, according to Gallup-Healthways poll. It fell further to 11.1 percent by mid-2015, likely helped by the fact that Medicaid expansion took effect in 2015 in Indiana.

How Indiana approached exchange implementation

Indiana is among the 26 states that opted to use the federal health insurance marketplace, While former Gov. Mitch Daniels was a critic of the Affordable Care Act, he refrained from making a final decision about the state’s marketplace and asked the three gubernatorial candidates for their opinions. Following the election, then Gov.-elect Mike Pence weighed in and rejected both the state-run and partnership models.

In 2014, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and 39 school districts filed a suit challenging premium subsidies in the state as it does not operate its own health insurance exchange. A U.S. District Court judge delayed ruling on the suit, given that the U.S. Supreme Court was taking up the issue in King v. Burwell (ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled that subsidies are legal in states that use

In January 2015, several state representatives introduced HB1479 to “prohibit any agency of the state from assisting in the enforcement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” The bill would have prohibited Indiana insurance officials from enforcing violations of the Affordable Care Act and would have allowed state residents subject to the federal penalty penalty for not having health insurance to deduct the penalty amount on their state taxes. The bill did not pass the House Ways and Means Committee however, so it was not taken up in the full House.

Medicaid expansion began in 2015

In January 2015, Indiana received federal approval of its waiver for Medicaid expansion. The Healthy Indiana Plan, or HIP 2.0, requires most newly eligible beneficiaries to contribute to a health savings account (HSA) and to pay co-payments for emergency room visits for non-emergency care. HIP 2.0 is fairly complicated, with various contribution and benefit levels based on income and whether or not a beneficiary makes the required HSA contribution.

Indiana began accepting HIP 2.0 applications immediately after receiving approval, with coverage effective February 2015. Indiana officials estimate 350,000 are eligible for the program. According to a state press release, the approval of HIP 2.0 replaces traditional Medicaid coverage for Indiana’s non-disabled, non-elderly adults.

By December 2015, total Medicaid/CHIP enrollment in Indiana was 27 percent higher than it had been at the end of 2013, and more than 235,000 previously uninsured residents had enrolled in HIP 2.0 in its first year.

Indiana health insurance exchange links

Affordable Care Act Resources on

State Exchange Profile: Indiana
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Indiana’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.

Indiana Department of Insurance
Assists consumers who have purchased insurance on the individual market or who have insurance through an employer who only does business in Indiana.
(800) 622-4461 /

Louise Norris is an individual health insurance broker who has been writing about health insurance and health reform since 2006. She has written dozens of opinions and educational pieces about the Affordable Care Act for Her state health exchange updates are regularly cited by media who cover health reform and by other health insurance experts.