LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The new Arkansas Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) health insurance exchange system has attracted four medical plan providers.
The “qualified health plan” (QHP) providers include three traditional insurers – Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, Celtic Insurance Company/NovaSys Health and QualChoice of Arkansas — and a National Blue Cross Blue Shield multi-state plan (MSP).
PPACA requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and state regulators to set up exchanges, or health insurance supermarkets, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia by Oct. 1.
States can set up their own exchanges, let HHS provide exchanges for their residents, or share the job with HHS through a “partnership exchange” arrangement.
Arkansas is one of seven states using the partnership model for running its health exchange. The state has received more than $43 million from the federal government to set up the exchange.
Officials are predicting that the state’s exchange could attract about 500,000 state residents.
The MSP is a new type of health plan. Drafters of PPACA created the MSP program — which is supposed to let a plan operate in multiple states without facing as much state oversight as a typical multi-state carrier — in an effort to increase the level of competition in states in which one or two carriers dominate the individual market, the small-group market or both.
The Arkansas Insurance Department announced the QHP notice results Tuesday.
“I am pleased with the level of participation the industry continues to show,” Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford said in a statement. “It has always been my desire, and in the best interest of the Arkansas consumer, to have as much competition and choice as possible on the Health Insurance Marketplace.”
The next step for the department will be to review the companies’ planned service areas to make sure they meet a requirement that consumers in each of the state’s 75 counties have a choice among at least two health insurance carriers, Exchange Planning Director Cindy Crone said.