Trends in Disenrollment and Reenrollment Within US Commercial Health Insurance Plans, 2006-2018. Academic Article uri icon


  • IMPORTANCE: The commercial health insurance market is characterized by consistently high enrollee turnover. Turnover can disrupt care continuity for patients and create challenges for insurers in managing the health of their enrollee populations. Yet the extent to which enrollees reenroll is not widely known. OBJECTIVE: To characterize rates of disenrollment (hereafter, external turnover) and reenrollment in commercial health plans. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: In this retrospective longitudinal cohort study, trends in turnover and reenrollment in commercial health plans between January 1, 2006, and August 31, 2018, were analyzed. Data analysis was conducted from January 21, 2020, through December 23, 2021. Participants included 3018633 primary members and their dependents with employer-sponsored coverage. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Primary outcomes included external turnover from commercial coverage and subsequent reenrollment into any line of business with the insurer (commercial, Medicaid Managed Care, and Medicare Advantage). Within commercial coverage, external turnover was analyzed separately for group (ie, employer-sponsored) and individual markets. RESULTS: In the sample of 3018633 members, 50.2% were men; mean (SD) age, including dependents, was 30.68 (19.05) years. A total of 2.2% of members experienced external turnover each month and 21.5% experienced external turnover each year. The individual market had the highest average monthly turnover rate of 3.4% compared with 2.1% in the group market. December had the highest rate of external turnover, with 13.8% experiencing external turnover in the individual market and 6.9% of members experiencing external turnover in the group market. Fourteen percent of the members who left the insurer from an individual plan reenrolled with the insurer after 1 year, and 34% had reenrolled after 5 years. Among members who left the insurer from a group plan, 12% reenrolled after 1 year and 32% reenrolled after 5 years. After 10 years, reenrollment reached 47% in the 2 markets. More than 80% of enrollees returned to the same line of business and within the same state, suggesting findings may generalize to smaller insurers. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: The findings of this cohort study suggest that insurers may benefit from investing in members' long-term health outcomes despite substantial short-term turnover rates.

published proceedings

  • JAMA Netw Open

altmetric score

  • 294

author list (cited authors)

  • Fang, H., Frean, M., Sylwestrzak, G., & Ukert, B.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Fang, Hanming||Frean, Molly||Sylwestrzak, Gosia||Ukert, Benjamin

publication date

  • February 2022