Then there were four.

On Wednesday, Arkansas insurance regulators submitted recommendations to the feds for four companies to participate in a forthcoming health insurance exchange.

Previously five firms had indicated they would participate in the exchange, but one insurer, United Security Life and Health Insurance Co., dropped out.

The four remaining carriers who will participate in the exchange include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arkansas, Celtic/Novasys, QualChoice of Arkansas, and national Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The exchange is an outcome of the federal health care law, which requires states to set up an online marketplace to allow consumers to shop for health insurance plans. The federal law and a new state plan known as the “private option” are expected to steer more than 500,000 Arkansans into the exchange to receive standard plans or subsidized insurance.

Qualifying companies had to meet several levels of financial adequacy as well as meet Arkansas Insurance Department goals to offer plans in multiple regions of the state.

The Arkansas Healthcare Independence Act of 2013 requires that consumers in each of Arkansas’ 75 counties have a choice among at least two health insurance issuers.

Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford issued a statement on the agency’s submission of its exchange plan to federal officials.

“The Arkansas Insurance Department has submitted recommendations to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for approval of plans to be certified for sale on the Health Insurance Market Place (HIM) in Arkansas. Those companies submitting one or more plans are Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, Celtic Insurance Company (Novasys), QualChoice of Arkansas, and Blue Cross Blue Shield Multi-state Plan,” he said.

“These companies and their plans will be reviewed by CMS in the order in which they are received. As Arkansas is a state partnership marketplace, the federal government will operate the Arkansas exchange and will make the final decision as to which plans may be sold through the marketplace at the state level. AID’s recommendation of plans allows the insurers to continue the process to become certified by CMS to participate in the exchange. A final decision is expected from CMS by early September.”

Open enrollment for the HIM begins October 1, 2013, and continues until March 31, 2014.

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