Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealth Opt Out of State Insurance Exchange
Three prominent health insurers -- Aetna, Cigna and UnitedHealth -- have chosen not to participate in California's health insurance exchange next year, the Los Angeles Times reports (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 5/22).
The exchange -- called Covered California -- primarily will serve individuals and small businesses.
Supporters hope that the exchange will function similar to websites like Amazon and Expedia so that users will be able to choose between various health plans through an easily navigable online store.
The exchange is expected to open for registration in October (California Healthline, 5/15).
An estimatedÂ five million people will purchase health insurance through the exchange in 2014, according to the Times.
Details of Insurers' Participation
Aetna, Cigna and United HealthÂ account for about 7% of the individual health insurance market in California.
Meanwhile, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California and Kaiser Permanente -- which account for nearly 87% of the individual market in the state -- have chosen to participate in the exchange.
In an interview ahead of the announcement, Peter Lee -- executive director of Covered California â" rejected criticism that diminished competition would lead to higher premiums and fewer plan choices.
He said, "There will be plenty of price competition for California consumers," adding, "They will be benefiting from robust competition."Glenn Melnick -- a health policy professor at the University of Southern California -- said that the three insurers' decision to opt out of the exchange could give Anthem, Blue Shield and Kaiser increased bargaining leverage with health care providers, which could help lower health care costs (Los Angeles Times, 5/22). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.