BlueCross Exits Utah’s Small Business Exchange

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah has dropped out of the state’s small business health insurance Marketplace (or Exchange), known as Avenue H.

Three carriers will participate, according to Steve Gooch, a spokesman for Avenue H: United Healthcare, SelectHealth, and Arches Health Plan, a cooperative.

Regence declined to say why Regence withdrew from the Marketplace, created under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Utah runs its small business Marketplace, while the federal government operates the one for individuals. Utah is one of a handful of states sharing responsibilities with the federal government.

Regence BlueCross BlueShield will continue quoting new business only for groups with coverage effective dates up to Dec. 1, 2013, Gooch said. “Regence will then support all members through each group’s annual renewal date until Nov. 30, 2014.”

Regence will ”continue to work closely with the state as they implement system changes to meet Exchange guidelines,” says Rachelle Cunningham, a Regence company spokeswoman.

A parent company of Regence has set up a separate health insurance company, she says. It will offer health plans on the individual Exchange and keep offering coverage for both individuals and small business groups outside of the Exchange, Cunningham says.

Utah’s insurance department expects to announce which carriers will be selling individual plans on the Marketplace by Aug. 22, according to Tanji Northrup, assistant commissioner of the Utah Insurance Department.

Under the Affordable Care Act, each state must have a health insurance Marketplace in place by Oct. 1 for coverage starting Jan. 1, 2014. Most Americans will be required to have health insurance starting Jan. 1.

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