United Healthcare plans to offer federally subsidized health insurance in the Triangle as part of its corporate strategy to sell the policies in most of the state’s 100 counties.
That means residents of the Triangle and other parts of the state will have three options in 2015 for subsidized coverage under the Affordable Care Act, all from major national carriers.
United, the nation’s largest health insurer, filed its plans under seal with the N.C. Department of Insurance two months ago. The state agency plans to complete its review and issue approvals next week, but prices and other details won’t be public until the proposed insurance plans are approved federal regulators in time for open enrollment, which starts Nov. 15.
However, Garland Scott, United’s chief executive for the Carolinas, discussed the company’s strategy Thursday at a health care forum in Durham. United is already North Carolina’s second-largest health insurer, covering nearly 1 million people through employer plans, but the company has had a small presence in the market for individual policies, which is dominated by Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
“We’re filing in the majority of counties,” Scott said. “We’re not quite statewide.”
Scott discussed United’s strategy after a speaking at an event sponsored by Hill, Chesson & Woody, a Durham-based benefits consulting firm. He discussed the state of health care with four other insurance CEOs, including Cigna’s Charles Pitts and Brad Wilson of Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
United entered just four states this year to sell individual policies under the Affordable Care Act, but the company is expanding in 2015. United picked North Carolina for expansion because the company already has a network of doctors and hospitals here, and because of the state’s success in enrolling people for subsidized coverage, Scott said.
“It looks to be a large market,” he said. “This is a market we’re looking to expand and grow in.”
North Carolina had the fifth-highest enrollment in the nation, signing up more than 357,000 people for individual policies under the federal health care law. Of that total, 91 percent qualified for a federal subsidy to offset costs.
The actual number of enrollees has dropped in recent months because some haven’t paid premiums and lost their coverage, but updated enrollment figures have not been released.
The other two insurers proposing plans in 2015 offer subsidized coverage this year: Blue Cross is in all 100 counties and Coventry Health Care of the Carolinas operates in 39 counties. Coventry is a regional subsidiary of Aetna.
Individual insurance policies are sold to people who don’t have coverage through their employer, Medicare, Medicaid or through the military.
The Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to buy health insurance. The law makes it illegal to turn down applicants with pre-existing conditions, to charge women more than men, and to charge older customers more than three times as much as younger customers.