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Archives: KHI News Service

On January 1, 2017, the KHI News Service became part of KCUR public radio’s new initiative, the Kansas News Service. The Kansas News Service will continue to cover health policy news and broaden its scope to include education and politics. All stories produced by the former KHI News Service are archived here. Stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to KHI.org.

Health insurer withdraws from Kansas marketplace

Decision surprises Kansas regulators as Nov. 1 start of enrollment period nears

By Jim McLean | October 19, 2015

A major provider of health insurance in Kansas is pulling out of the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

Two companies under the Aetna corporate umbrella — Coventry Health & Life Insurance Co. and Coventry Health Care of Kansas Inc. — are withdrawing from the marketplace just two weeks before the Nov. 1 start of the next open enrollment period.

Coventry merged with Aetna in 2013.

Rohan Hutchings, an Aetna spokesperson, said company officials made the decision after reviewing a range of business factors, including the company’s competitive position in the 17 states in which it offers marketplace plans.

Two companies under the same corporate umbrella — Coventry Health & Life Insurance Co. and Coventry Health Care of Kansas Inc. — are withdrawing from the healthcare.gov marketplace just two weeks before the Nov. 1 start of the next open enrollment period.

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“Once we conducted that review, we reluctantly came to the decision that we could no longer meet the needs of our individual on-exchange members in Kansas,” Hutchings said.

Hutchings said Kansas policyholders would be covered through the end of the year.

Nearly 85,000 Kansans have purchased coverage in the ACA marketplace, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. When asked how many of those Kansans were covered by Coventry, Hutchings said he would have to check.

The open enrollment runs from November of this year through Jan. 31, 2016, although Dec. 15 is the last day to enroll for coverage starting Jan. 1.

Coventry didn’t inform Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer of its decision until a few days ago, said Clark Shultz, the department’s director of government affairs.

“We are so close to open enrollment, this is very last minute,” Shultz said. “It has really taken us by surprise.”

Shultz said that Selzer plans to meet with Coventry officials this week to gain a better understanding of their reasons for withdrawing.

“We really don’t have a good handle on them yet,” he said. “They’ve just said it was for a combination of reasons.”

In August, Selzer reduced rate increases requested by Coventry and the other companies participating in the Kansas marketplace. Coventry sought increases of 20 percent to 35 percent, depending on the plan.

“We are so close to open enrollment, this is very last minute. It has really taken us by surprise.”

- Clark Shultz, director of government affairs for the Kansas Insurance Department

A media release issued by the department didn’t specify how Selzer dealt with Coventry’s requests but said that overall he had reduced the proposed increases by an average of 9.4 percent to 25.4 percent.

Hutchings didn’t answer directly when asked if the reductions played a role in the company’s decision, saying only that it was based on multiple factors, including “market conditions and the competitive landscape.”

The two Coventry companies were among six insurers set to offer plans in the Kansas marketplace. Those remaining are Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, BlueCross and BlueShield Kansas Solutions Inc., Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and United Healthcare of the Midwest Inc.