Thousands of Kansans forced to find new health insurance

TOPEKA (KSNT) — 45,000 Kansans are now faced with a search for a new health insurance provider.

This comes after two key providers decided to drop out of the health insurance exchange, which is part of the Affordable Care Act, starting next year.

“We knew it was going to dramatically change the market, and we also knew that it was going to take several years for that market to stabilize,” said Mary Beth Chambers of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas.

With another open enrollment period just 10 days away, Coventry Health and Life Insurance Company and Coventry Health Care of Kansas Inc. are backing out.

“We knew what providers were going to be providing policies on the exchange and them pulling out, doing it so last minute, it has caused us concerns,” said Clark Schultz, a spokesman for the Kansas Insurance Department.

In a Statement Coventry says, “After reviewing our national footprint, the competitive landscape, market conditions and the portfolio of plans we offer, we reluctantly came to the decision that we could no longer meet the needs of our Individual on-Exchange members in Kansas while also meeting our business strategy.”

Now Kansans will only have four other options to select from in the exchange including: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Kansas Solutions, and — a brand new provider for 2016 — UnitedHealthCare of the Midwest.

The state admits the changes are inconvenient.

“It’s mainly the fact that somebody that’s had a policy and they’ve got this company and now they have to take action to change, otherwise they will not have a policy,” said Shultz.

So does fewer providers mean a bigger price tag for you?

Not this year. Premiums have already been set for 2016, but if those other companies suddenly get an influx of new customers… “We’ll find in the course of 2016 if the premium dollars we collect are enough to pay for the claims that we receive,” said Chambers.

If those premiums aren’t high enough to cover all the new clients, then the cost will come back to you.

Open enrollment begins November 1 and in order to have coverage on the first day of the new year, you must enroll by December 15.

Coventry will continue offering private health insurance plans to Kansans, however those plans will not be eligible for the government tax credit.

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