NY Times: Choice of Health Plans to Vary Sharply From State to State

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Published: June 16, 2013

When a typical 40-year-old uninsured woman in Maine goes to the new state exchange to buy health insurance this fall, she may have just two companies to choose from: the one that already sells most individual policies in the state, and a complete unknown — a nonprofit start-up.

Her counterpart in California, however, will have a much wider variety of choices: 13 insurers are likely to offer plans, including the state’s largest and best-known carriers.

With only a few months remaining before Americans will start buying coverage through the new state insurance exchanges under President Obama’s health care law, it is becoming clear that the millions of people purchasing policies in the exchanges will find that their choices vary sharply, depending on where they live.

States like California, Colorado and Maryland have attracted an array of insurers. But options for people in other states may be limited to an already dominant local Blue Cross plan and a few newcomers with little or no track record in providing individual coverage, including the two dozen new carriers across the country created under the Affordable Care Act.

Maine residents, for example, will not see an influx of new insurers. The state has an older population and strict rules that already have discouraged many insurers from selling policies, so choices will probably be limited to the state’s dominant carrier, Anthem Blue Cross, and Maine Community Health Options.

Continue Reading here: http://nyti.ms/12bU7NC

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