National health plans that will sell policies through health insurance exchanges in every state might not be available when the online marketplaces open for business next year, thereby decreasing consumers' options and insurer competition in many markets.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which will administer these plans, says 31 states will have national plans available, but it won't release the names of the insurers or states under consideration, reported the Washington Post/Kaiser Health News.
Blue Cross Blue Shield plans will be among the multi-state options. Alissa Fox, the association's senior vice president for policy, said Blues plans have proposed to offer a national policy next year in 31 states, including New Mexico, Michigan, Kansas and Arkansas. But even assuming OPM approves the Blues' proposal, 19 states could still be left without a national plan.
Another concern is whether these national plans actually will increase competition since Blues plans already sell policies in almost every state. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arkansas will be offering a multi-state policy in Arkansas, where it already dominates the market with a 70 percent share, Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford told the newspapers.
But since insurance filings weren't due until the end of June, he doesn't know yet whether the multi-state plans will offer different prices and options. "It will be better for competition if they are somewhat different," Bradford said.
Insurers, for their part, have raised concerns about whether OPM will create standards that undermine state regulations and potentially create an uneven playing field in different markets, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.
To learn more:
- read the Washington Post/Kaiser Health News article