5 Firms Plan To Be in Arkansas Health Insurance Exchange

Five health insurance companies this week said they plan to sell insurance in Arkansas' Health Insurance Marketplace, which is where consumers will be able to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The five firms are:

  • Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield of Little Rock
  • National Blue Cross Blue Shield Multi-state Plan
  • QCA Health Plan of Little Rock, which does business as QualChoice of Arkansas Inc.              
  • Celtic Insurance Co. of Chicago, through its subsidiary NovaSys Health
  • United Security Life & Health Insurance of Bedford, Ill.

The companies also submitted their planned service areas for 2014, which will be reviewed by the Arkansas Insurance Department, according to an AID news release.

Four firms submitted their applications on Tuesday. A fifth, United Security, submitted on Wednesday.

The Arkansas Healthcare Independence Act of 2013 requires that consumers in each of Arkansas' 75 counties have a choice among at least two health insurance issuers.

Open enrollment for the HIM begins Oct. 1, and continues until March 31. Consumers can access the HIM through the Arkansas Health Connector beginning Oct. 1.

"We are encouraged with this response to the new Marketplace and anticipate the competition will keep premium prices low for all Arkansans," said Exchange Planning Director Cynthia Crone in the news release.

Crone told The Associated Press that the next step for the department will be to review the companies' service areas to make sure they offer customers choice among at least two carriers.

"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."