Kansans who buy individual health insurance plans on the Affordable Care Act exchange now know they will have two insurers to choose from for 2018 coverage. But they don’t yet know what kind of premiums they might have to pay.
The Kansas Insurance Department announced this week that it is giving insurers more time to submit initial rate requests for 2018, because Centene decided to jump into the market late. Bob Hanson, a spokesman for the department, said preliminary rates won’t be published until Aug. 16 at the earliest.
“That allows for time to review all the rates from all three and to keep any company from having a competitive advantage or disadvantage as to premium information,” Hanson said via email. “So, we won’t have any information to discuss between now and then as to premium rates. Everything will be finalized on Sept. 27.”
Hanson confirmed that Centene intends to sell Kansas plans only in Johnson and Wyandotte counties. That fills a hole left when Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City announced in May that it was getting out of the Affordable Care Act exchange, which is commonly called Obamacare.
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Centene, based in the St. Louis area, will sell under the name Sunflower State Health Plan, which is also how it branded the subsidiary it established in 2013 to bid on and administer a Kansas Medicaid contract.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, based in Topeka, still intends to sell plans in the state’s other 103 counties. Minnesota-based Medica has filed to sell plans in all 105 counties, but Hanson said the department doesn’t know yet if that company will cap its Obamacare enrollment at 10,000 Kansans, like it did when it joined the exchange this year.
About 100,000 Kansans have used the exchange to purchase health insurance each year since it started in 2014. Most have received federal subsidies based on their income.
Grady Martin, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Insurance, said the department doesn’t yet know which insurers plan to sell in what counties because Missouri doesn’t do the same plan review process as Kansas.
“At this time, we do not have any information beyond what the companies themselves have made publicly available,” Martin said.
Centene has confirmed it plans to sell in 40 Missouri counties, including 30 around the Kansas City area that were vacated by Blue KC. Cigna, which has sold plans in five metro-area counties (Jackson, Cass, Platte, Clay and Ray) in the past, has not yet announced its 2018 intentions.
The long-term fate of the Affordable Care Act exchanges remains up in the air as Republicans pursue repeal of the 2010 law. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, has said the Senate will vote on its replacement bill next week.