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Top health insurance plans see enrollments climb

By Maryalene LaPonsie on March 12th, 2013

Led by more than one million seniors, enrollment in the nation's seven top health insurance plans rose in the first half of 2012. The senior segment of the market, which includes Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans, saw the greatest growth but medical insurance enrollment was up across Medicaid and commercial plans as well.

The data regarding health insurance enrollment was compiled by Mark Farrah Associates, a firm which researches and publishes information regarding the health plan market.

Aetna and WellPoint only insurers to see membership drop

According to Mark Farrah Associates, the seven largest health insurance carriers saw their enrollment grow 2.5 percent to 131.1 million from June 2011 to June 2012. Plans within the Medicare senior segment saw the greatest growth with more than 1.3 million members added.

Included in the Mark Farrah Associates analysis were the following companies:

  • Aetna
  • Cigna
  • Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC)
  • Humana
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • UnitedHealth Group
  • WellPoint

Of these, only WellPoint and Aetna saw their overall enrollment drop. WellPoint lost 704,000 members while Aetna had a decline of 430,000 in its health insurance plans.

Meanwhile, Cigna added 1.136 million new subscribers to its medical insurance offerings. Humana also saw a significant bump in membership as it won the military's TRICARE South Region contract.

Together, these seven companies provide health insurance coverage to 51 percent of the U.S. residents who have medical insurance.

Insurers hope to add more members with health exchanges

A separate survey conducted by audit, tax and advisory services firm KPMG LLC indicates insurers may be hoping to build on recent gains as the government prepares to roll out health insurance exchanges.

Mandated under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the state-run exchanges are intended to provide low cost health insurance to families earning less than 400 percent of the federal poverty limit. While insurers aren't required to provide coverage through the exchanges, the KPMG survey finds most insurers are already looking to the exchanges as a way to boost their enrollment.

Two-thirds of health insurance business leaders surveyed say they have analyzed the costs associated with offering health insurance coverage on the exchanges. In addition, 39 percent say they have developed a plan to be ready for the exchanges while 29 percent say they have already begun implementing necessary changes.

KPMG also found 17 percent of these business leaders have developed a product market strategy specifically to provide affordable health insurance on the exchanges. Only 7 percent have no plans to provide health insurance plans to consumers shopping through the exchanges.

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