GAO Finds Increased Plan Choice in Individual Markets On and Off Marketplaces

According to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, consumers purchasing individual market plans on and off the ACA’s Marketplaces had access to more health plans in 2015 compared to 2014. The report found that the increase in plan choice was most pronounced on the Marketplaces. In 2015, 94% of counties had six or more silver Marketplace plans and 88% of counties had six or more bronze Marketplace plans, compared to 80% for both categories in 2014. Plan choice remains even more robust off the Marketplace, where the percentage of counties reporting six or more silver and bronze plans increased from 97% to 100% between 2014 and 2015. In reviewing premiums, GAO found that the lowest-cost plans in the individual markets tended to be sold on Marketplaces. Specifically, the lowest-cost silver plan in the individual market was available through the Marketplace in 81% of counties analyzed, an increase of 18 percentage points from 2014. The premiums for lowest-cost plans in each state varied widely, though the study revealed that the cost for the minimum and median premiums for silver plans increased from 2014 to 2015 in most states.

Federal Judge Permits House Republicans to Proceed with Lawsuit Against Obama Administration

A U.S. District Court judge ruled that the House can proceed with a lawsuit challenging whether the Administration unconstitutionally took the “power of the purse” from Congress by spending funds on Marketplace subsidies that were not appropriated by Congress, reports the Washington Post. The judge also ruled that the House cannot pursue a separate argument in the lawsuit, which alleges that the Administration's delay of the employer mandate violated the Constitution. The Administration is expected to appeal to a higher court before the case is heard, according to Modern Healthcare.

Agent and Broker Hotline to Launch for 2016 Open Enrollment

Agents and brokers will have a dedicated call center for questions pertaining to clients utilizing HealthCare.gov, according to Politico. The call center hotline is expected to be operational by November 1 for the start of the 2016 open enrollment period.