Health Insurance Evolution Becomes a Revolution
Insurer names, they are a-changin'
Not surprisingly, health reform has fueled a merger and acquisition frenzy as large group insurers acquire smaller carriers that cater to individuals. The result has been confusion for some consumers.
"Companies that have purchased smaller companies and left them with their name in place are now rebranding everything," says Chollet.
That's not necessarily a bad thing because it could make your health insurance more portable, she says. "They want to put the biggest face they can out there so when you go into an exchange and buy their brand, you know that if you lose your job or get a job that has health insurance, you can take that with you because it will be offered in the exchange."
You might not feel a thing
If you already have employer-based health insurance, it's possible that you may notice virtually no change from the coming flood of newly insured Americans, Billet says, at least in the short term.
"For most employees, some of the biggest changes have already happened: free preventive care (and) no lifetime limits on coverage," says Billet. "A few companies may someday choose to drop their plan and send employees to the individual exchanges, but for the vast majority, I think it's unlikely."
And what will happen to health insurance companies that don't care to pursue the coming rush of individual customers?
"They will care in 2014" when so many key aspects of health care reform take effect, Chollet predicts. "In 2014, the world changes. Nonparticipating insurers might survive for two or three years, but after that, I think they're going to collapse. The market is very concentrated, and it's going to become more so. You don't want to be a niche player in this market."