States to limit which health plans will be offered in exchanges

States likely will be able to either limit which health plans are offered in health insurance exchanges or they could allow unfettered competition, an HHS official told an AHIP conference audience.

Joel Ario, who oversees the creation of health insurance exchanges for HHS, signaled that his office will issue guidance "within a few weeks" that encourages states to experiment with the menu of plans they will offer, according to CQ HealthBeat.

He said he envisions "three buckets" of competitors in exchanges--insurers that compete nationally, Blue Cross Blue Shield plans operating at the state level, and provider-based insurance plans, CQ reports.

Ario also told insurers that they'll find a friend in his office if they are sincere about competing on price and quality rather than on turning away bad risks as they have in the past. And he stressed the opportunities for new customers that insurers have as a result of the health overhaul. The law is expected to expand coverage to 32 million Americans who now are uninsured, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"Thirty-two million new customers. Everybody has to buy the product and many of them come with subsidies," Ario said. "I really just don't know what's not to like in that for you guys. It's a pretty big opportunity," he said.

To learn more:
- read the CQ HealthBeat story
- see the Los Angeles Times article

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