Even though the Affordable Care Act will come into effect next year, the health insurance marketplace will be online as early as this coming October. But most people will be surprised to find out that the “marketplace” for North Carolina is only comprised of three vendors. This is what most North Carolinians have a problem with; if they want to compare different insurance policies, would it not be better if there were more than just these three companies?
The original goal of the health insurance marketplaces is to provide individuals with a method to purchase coverage at lower costs by giving them access to government subsidies. The marketplace is also supposed to provide a venue for small businesses (those with less than 50 employees) to purchase coverage for their employees, and maybe even get some tax credits while they are at it. But due to certain changes in the rules on how insurance carriers can structure their plans and set premium costs, it resulted in only a couple of companies participating in the marketplace, which will hopefully change soon.
One of the changes that will be implemented when the Affordable Care Act is enacted is that the insurance premiums of young, healthy people will increase 8% to 10%, while that of the older generation (people who over 60 and are more likely to use health care) will decrease by roughly the same amount. This caused many companies to rewrite most, if not all of their existing policies; which is why so few providers are participating in the marketplace next year. Some analysts think that this change in premium rates will cause most small businesses to cease providing health care for their employees and direct them to the marketplace instead.
As of present time, only three companies have confirmed to join the North Carolina Marketplace when it goes online in October; Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, Coventry, and First Carolina Care Insurance Company. And of these three, only Blue Cross Blue Shield will be offering plans for small groups; but the number of companies is expected to increase in the following years, but by how much is still unknown.
Not to say that the insurance plans offered by the three participating health care providers are no good, it just seems better if there were more choices. Hopefully, as time passes, there would be more choices when it comes to insurance policies and providers, but as of now people could try to be content with what is provided.