Individual Insurance Market Performance in Early 2019
The loss ratios shown in this issue brief differ from the definition of MLR in the ACA, which makes some adjustments for quality improvement and taxes, and do not account for reinsurance, risk corridors, or risk adjustment payments. Reinsurance payments, in particular, helped offset some losses insurers would have otherwise experienced. However, the ACA’s reinsurance program was temporary, ending in 2016, so loss ratio calculations excluding reinsurance payments are a good indicator of financial stability going forward.
Although first quarter loss ratios and margins generally follow a similar pattern as annual data, starting in 2014 with the move to an annual open enrollment that corresponds to the calendar year, first quarter MLRs have been about 2 – 10 percentage points lower than annual loss ratios in the same year. This is because renewing existing customers, as well as new enrollees, are starting to pay toward their deductibles in January, whereas pre-ACA, renewals would occur throughout the calendar year.