One of the biggest problems with Obamacare is only getting worse

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The problem with Obamacare

It's going to be a lot easier for people to pick an Obamacare plan in 2017, if only because there will be less to choose from.

One of the biggest drivers that causes increased costs of healthcare is the lack of competition in some markets. This problem is acutely present for the Affordable Care Act's public insurance exchanges, according to a new study by Avalere Health.

According to the healthcare consulting firm, the high profile exits of large insurers such as Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, and Humana have eliminated a significant amount of competition within the exchange market.

2016 issues: Health, Obamacare opinions, Medicare, abortion

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2016 issues: Health, Obamacare opinions, Medicare, Abortion
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2016 issues: Health, Obamacare opinions, Medicare, Abortion
Opponents and supporters of Planned Parenthood demonstrate Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. Anti-abortion activists are calling for an end to government funding for the nonprofit reproductive services organization. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Anti-abortion activists demonstrate near a Planned Parenthood clinic Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. The protestors are calling for an end to government funding for the nonprofit reproductive services organization. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Kathy Calver listens to a speaker as she and other anti-abortion activists rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol to condemn the use in medical research of tissue samples from aborted fetuses, Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Razor grass and pro-choice signs limit the view of patients entering the Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, June 30, 2015. Mississippi's only abortion clinic will likely remain open at least until the fall, because the U.S. Supreme Court is taking no action until then on a dispute over a state law that could close it. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: Assembly of some 150 anti-abortion protesters behind barricade in front of Planned Parenthood. A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: Protester with Baby Doe sign in front of Planned Parenthood. A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks at a anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during a Anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 22: Pro-choice protesters chant in front of the Supreme Court on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, the anniversary of the Roe v Wade abortion decision. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Republican presidential candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, presents his plan to replace Obamacare, during a visit to Cass Screw Machine Products, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 5: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., testifies during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on 'ObamaCare: Why the Need for an Insurance Company Bailout?' on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., second from right, accompanied by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., left, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, second from left, and Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., right, speaks at a press conference on the positive affects of the Affordable Care Act as the Senate convenes for a Sunday session on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sunday, July 26, 2015. On the Senate's agenda is an effort to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama talks to a man in the audience as he takes questions at Taylor Stratton Elementary School in Nashville, Tenn., Wednesday, July 1, 2015, where he spoke about the Affordable Care Act. The president said he wants to refocus on improving health care quality, expanding access and rooting out waste now that the Supreme Court has upheld a key element of his health care law. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Jessica Ellis, right, holds a sign that says "yay 4 ACA," as she and other supporters of the Affordable Care Act react with cheers as the opinion for health care is reported outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday June 25, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Trent Seubert, left, holds a sign stating that 165,000 people would lose healthcare coverage, as the words "lose healthcare" are covered over with a "still covered" sticker outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 25, 2015, after the court decided that the without the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may provide nationwide tax subsidie. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2014 file photo, the HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen, in Portland, Ore. The Illinois Hospital Association in cash-strapped Illinois says the state might be able to set up a health insurance exchange at a lower cost by “leasing” the federal government’s technology, an option that could appeal to as many as 34 states where subsides could be jeopardized by an unfavorable Supreme Court ruling. . (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 25: Affordable Care Act supporters hold up signs outside the Supreme Court as they wait for the court's decision on Obamacare on Thursday, June 25, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
FILE-- In this Sept. 16, 2013 file photo, Gov. Rick Snyder, center, signs legislation at Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn, Mich. that will make more low-income adults eligible for Medicaid. One year after more low-income adults in Michigan became eligible for Medicaid under the federal health care law, enrollment is skyrocketing near 600,000, well above initial projections. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR AIDS HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION - Over 50 AIDS awareness advocates gather to protest in front of the Employment Development Department spearheaded by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) on Thursday, March 19, 2015, in Sacramento, Calif. The protest was over Cal/OSHA’s five-year delay in amending and tightening California workplace safety regulations regarding condom use in adult film production to better protect adult film workers. (Steve Yeater/AP Images for AIDS Healthcare Foundation)  
University of Maryland medical student Sarah Britz, center, and others, rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, March 4, 2015 in Washington, as the court was hearing arguments in King v. Burwell, a major test of President Barack Obama's health overhaul which, if successful, could halt health care premium subsidies in all the states where the federal government runs the insurance marketplaces. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
In this photo taken Feb. 24, 2015, Kimberly Davis holds the medications she now takes to slow the progression of her multiple sclerosis, at her home in Jackson, Miss. The Supreme Court will hear arguments next week over whether millions of people covered by the nation’s health care law can legally continue to get financial help to pay for their insurance. If the court says no, millions of consumers across more than 30 states could lose federal subsidies for their premiums. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 25 - Supporters of the Affordable Care Act celebrate as the opinion for health care is reported outside of the Supreme Court in Washington,Thursday June 25, 2015. The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the nationwide tax subsidies under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, in a ruling that preserves health insurance for millions of Americans. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
RICHMOND, CA - MARCH 31: Posters about Obamacare are posted on a window during a healthcare enrollment fair at the Bay Area Rescue Mission on March 31, 2014 in Richmond, California. SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) held the fair to help people sign up for free and low-cost health coverage through Medi-Cal or Covered California on the final day before the sign-up deadline. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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"A new analysis from Avalere finds that nearly 36 percent of exchange market rating regions may have only one participating insurance carrier offering plans for the 2017 plan year and there may be some sub-region counties where no plans are available," said a post on the study from Avalere President Dan Mendelson.

"Nearly 55 percent of exchange market rating regions may have two or fewer carriers."

Screen Shot 2016 08 24 at 7.40.06 AMChip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Avalere went through each of the coverage regions (the size of which can vary by state) and analyzed the current offerings by health insurers in 2016 and the so-far announced offerings for 2017.

The firm found that there are seven states — Alaska, Alabama, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming — in which every single coverage region only has one participating insurer. When this occurs, it essentially gives the insurer a monopoly and forces patients in that region to accept the premium that company offers.

Competition in the health insurance market has been a focus of government regulators for some time. One of the main reasons cited by the Department of Justice for blocking the mergers of Anthem and Cigna as well as Aetna and Humana was due to concerns over decreased competition.

This analysis only takes into account the announced moves from the three companies that plan to roll back their offerings, so there is a chance some insurers may step in to the underserved markets.

As it stands now, however, it appears one of the largest drivers of high healthcare costs for Obamacare is only getting worse.

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