ATLANTA ‑ UnitedHealthcare, Coventry, Cigna and Time Insurance Company have each submitted plans with the state to offer insurance in the federally run health care exchange in Georgia next year.
They join the five holdovers from this year’s exchange that are also submitting rates for review: Alliant Health Plans, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, and Peach State Health Plans.
The state’s deadline for applications for the Georgia exchange was midnight Monday. Glenn Allen, a spokesman for state Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, said late Monday afternoon that other insurers’ filings could come in before that deadline.
The increased competition is expected to be good news for Georgia consumers, and could prevent a big increase in premiums, experts say.
The Georgia exchange had vigorous competition in the metro Atlanta market this year, but in areas of southwest Georgia, the premiums there were among the highest in the country.
It’s not immediately clear whether United or the other three new applicants plan to offer coverage in all areas of Georgia. This year, just one company, Blue Cross, offered health plans statewide.
Earlier in the month, UnitedHealthcare executives said they were considering offering health plans in Georgia’s exchange for 2015.
State exchanges, required under the Affordable Care Act, are designed to help consumers find and purchase health coverage. An exchange can be run by either the individual state or the federal government. Georgia, like most other states, has opted for federal administration.
Minnesota-based UnitedHealth sells health plans in just five exchanges now, but its executives previously have said they expected to expand their offerings in 2015, Bloomberg News recently reported. United has moved to offer plans in several new states for next year.
Coventry, along with Aetna, initially proposed rates for the Georgia exchange for 2014, but ended up choosing not to participate in the state.
Allen said that with the submission of all proposed plans for 2015, the state will now review the rates of the insurers and check the adequacy of their medical provider networks.
“Consumers benefit from competition,” Karen Ignagni, the president and chief executive officer of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s Washington lobby group, told Bloomberg News in a May interview. “The most important thing is getting folks on the playing field offering different products to consumers so they can make the decisions that are best for them.”
More than 316,000 Georgians signed up for health plans in the insurance exchange by the end of the enrollment period this spring.