Data Note: How Has the Individual Insurance Market Grown Under the Affordable Care Act?

Updated with new data on May 12, 2015.

The individual (or “non-group”) insurance market has changed substantially under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Starting in 2014, the health law put in place new rules for what types of plans can be sold, required insurance companies to guarantee access to everyone regardless of health status, and limited the factors insurers could use in setting premiums. The law also created new Health Insurance Marketplaces, where low- and moderate- income consumers without access to other affordable coverage could obtain federal tax credits to help them pay their premiums.

As of the end of open enrollment in 2014, 8 million people had signed up for coverage through the Marketplaces. Accounting for the fact that some of those people did not pay their premiums or subsequently dropped coverage – and for signups through special enrollment periods throughout the year – 6.7 million people were insured through marketplace plans as of October 15, 2014. However, it has been unclear precisely how many of these Marketplace enrollees were previously uninsured or how many would have purchased individual coverage directly from an insurer in the absence of the ACA.

Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of recently-submitted 2014 filings by insurers to state insurance departments (using data compiled by Mark Farrah Associates) shows that 15.6 million people had major medical coverage in the individual insurance market – both inside and outside of the Marketplaces – as of December 31, 2014. Enrollment was up 4.9 million over the end of 2013, a 46% increase.

Individual Market Enrollment (in Millions)

Individual Market Enrollment (in Millions)

The insurance company filings do not break down whether coverage was purchased through a Marketplace or in the outside market, nor whether coverage was first purchased after January 1, 2014 and therefore subject to the new ACA insurance market rules. However, juxtaposing these enrollment figures with the federal government’s estimate of 6.7 Marketplace enrollees as of October 15, 2014 suggests that about 43% of all individual market coverage was purchased through the marketplaces in 2014. It also means that new enrollment in the individual market among those who would have otherwise been uninsured likely took place inside the Marketplaces, driven by the availability of premium subsidies. Among those signing up for Marketplace plans in 2014, 85% qualified for premium subsidies.

Looking by state (shown in Table 1), almost half of the individual market enrollment growth nationwide from 2013 to 2014 was in four states: California (843,607), Florida (653,997), Texas (505,931), and Georgia (330,520). The individual insurance markets in six states grew by more than 75%: Arkansas (168%), New York (141%), Rhode Island (104%), Maine (93%), Georgia (79%), and Florida (77%). (Note that Arkansas figures may include some people eligible for Medicaid who enrolled in marketplace plans through that state’s “private option” approach to the ACA’s Medicaid expansion.)

Two states – Colorado and Massachusetts – saw decreases in individual market enrollment. Both states had below average enrollment in their marketplaces as a share of the potential market, and in Colorado some people previously purchasing coverage on their own may have switched to Medicaid as eligibility expanded. Massachusetts had implemented an earlier health reform plan and experienced significant transitions in coverage as the ACA took effect. (Note that the data for Nebraska also show a decrease in enrollment, but a sizable plan has not yet filed).

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. Not all of those new enrollees will pay their premiums and begin coverage, but it is likely that the individual market has continued to grow in 2015, though at a slower pace than in the first year of full ACA implementation. Over time, reaching new enrollees – particularly those who are uninsured – will be key to the long-term success of the law.

Table 1: Change In Individual Market Enrollment From 2013-2014, by State
2014 Individual Enrollment 2013 Individual Enrollment Change % Change
National  15,553,564  10,620,872  4,932,392 46%
Alaska  23,641  14,127  9,514 67%
Alabama  205,772  168,787  36,985 22%
Arkansas*  303,258  113,288  189,970 168%
Arizona  327,549  266,381  61,168 23%
California  2,171,525  1,327,918  843,607 64%
Colorado  271,835  282,628  (10,793) -4%
Connecticut  160,253  121,004  39,249 32%
District of Columbia  20,090  19,205  885 5%
Delaware  32,463  21,562  10,901 51%
Florida  1,499,569  845,572  653,997 77%
Georgia  750,256  419,736  330,520 79%
Hawaii  33,013  27,336  5,677 21%
Iowa*  189,264  181,159  8,105 4%
Idaho  150,065  90,810  59,255 65%
Illinois  599,188  442,703  156,485 35%
Indiana  231,276  171,525  59,751 35%
Kansas  163,952  124,619  39,333 32%
Kentucky  162,920  131,770  31,150 24%
Louisiana  224,989  175,218  49,771 28%
Massachusetts  72,208  79,233  (7,025) -9%
Maryland  279,898  190,291  89,607 47%
Maine  61,807  31,965  29,842 93%
Michigan  473,091  344,173  128,918 37%
Minnesota  293,349  248,066  45,283 18%
Missouri  344,020  260,303  83,717 32%
Mississippi  128,189  85,190  42,999 50%
Montana  70,078  45,488  24,590 54%
North Carolina  633,480  467,868  165,612 35%
North Dakota  49,031  44,480  4,551 10%
Nebraska*  110,243  124,753  (14,510) -12%
New Hampshire  55,611  35,856  19,755 55%
New Jersey  261,176  154,823  106,353 69%
New Mexico  70,525  57,508  13,017 23%
Nevada  118,296  96,694  21,602 22%
New York  410,924  170,680  240,244 141%
Ohio  380,508  330,617  49,891 15%
Oklahoma  171,673  121,897  49,776 41%
Oregon  210,211  160,047  50,164 31%
Pennsylvania  640,486  461,811  178,675 39%
Rhode Island  37,571  18,392  19,179 104%
South Carolina  201,111  134,210  66,901 50%
South Dakota  73,124  65,728  7,396 11%
Tennessee  340,904  243,143  97,761 40%
Texas  1,251,270  745,339  505,931 68%
Utah  213,830  140,084  73,746 53%
Virginia  416,010  317,414  98,596 31%
Vermont  32,163  21,115  11,048 52%
Washington  303,784  254,881  48,903 19%
Wisconsin  258,986  177,607  81,379 46%
West Virginia  42,225  24,665  17,560 71%
Wyoming  26,904  21,203  5,701 27%
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of annual filings to state insurance departments, using data compiled by Mark Farrah Associates. Enrollment as of December 31 of each year.
Notes: Arkansas enrollment may include some people who enrolled in Medicaid through the state’s “private option” approach to Medicaid Expansion. Some known exchange participants have not filed enrollment data (Cooportunity Health in NE and IA, and Prominence Health Plan in NV). Data are still preliminary and other insurers may not have filed.

This analysis is based on filings that insurers submit to state regulators.  The source of the data was the Health Coverage Portal TM, a market database maintained by Mark Farrah Associates, which includes information from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and California’s Department of Managed Health Care. The underlying data sources are the Supplemental Health Care Exhibit (SHCE) and the California Department of Managed Care.

Plans showing enrollment, but no premium income were excluded from the analysis. In 2014, this primarily affected three states (Georgia, Kentucky, and Missouri), where Wellcare was excluded (this insurer primarily services Medicaid enrollees and appears to have erroneously filed as major medical). Parkland Community Health Plan was also excluded from Texas enrollment figures for this reason.

Some insurers have not yet filed certain data elements, or may revise their filings.  Because some known exchange participants (in AR, CO, NM, NY, MA, OR, RI, UT, and WA) appear to have not filed the SHCE, these plans’ enrollment data as reported on the Exhibit of Premiums, Enrollment, and Utilization (EPEU) were used instead. Data for Affinity, HealthFirst, MetroPlus, and Fidelis Care in NY were provided by state regulators and are included in the updated version of this analysis.  Exchange participants in other states did not have annual enrollment data available from either of the two exhibits (Cooportunity Health in NE and IA, and Prominence Health Plan in NV) and are therefore not included in this analysis.

Two sizable insurers (Blue Cross of Idaho and Security Health Plan of Wisconsin) did not file 2014 enrollment on the SHCE, so annual enrollment figures from the EPEU were used instead. In some cases, the number of individual market enrollees reported by individual insurers on the exhibits used for this analysis does not match figures reported on other exhibits.

Data were accessed on April 23, 2015. The analysis is limited to the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and does not include the territories. Enrollment is measured by the number of covered lives in major medical coverage on December 31, 2014, and does not include specialty coverage.

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