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Connecticut, The Insurance Capital, Moves Ahead With Exchange Plans

Five health plans — including all the major insurers in the state’s individual and small group markets —  have told Connecticut’s health insurance exchange that they plan to offer policies in the state’s new online marketplace this fall.

Exchange officials said Monday that Aetna, United Healthcare, Anthem, ConnectiCare and a new nonprofit co-op owned by the Connecticut State Medical Society have filed letters of intent to sell coverage, exchange officials said Monday.

Health plans had until last Friday to submit the letters to the exchange, which will begin enrollment Oct. 1 for coverage beginning next January.  Consumers will not find out until next October what those policies will cover and how much they will cost.

Connecticut, long known as the nation’s insurance capital,  is among the first states with a deadline for insurers to say whether they will participate, said Caroline Pearson, of Avalere Health, a consulting firm in  Washington. Maryland’s exchange had a November deadline, according to an official with that exchange. About 30 plans have sent letters of intent to participate in California’s exchange. Delaware, which is planning to set up an exchange in partnership with the federal government, has given health plans until February to submit letters of intent to participate.

Two major national health plans that did not submit letters of intent in Connecticut were Cigna, which is headquartered in Hartford, and Humana. Neither company is a major player in the individual and small group markets, however.  Several smaller carriers which are active in the state’s individual and small group market — Celtic and Time Insurance — did not apply.

Four additional insurers have told the exchange they plan to offer dental coverage: Delta Dental, The Guardian Life Insurance Company, MetLife and Renaissance Dental.

“We are very pleased with the response from these leading insurance carriers,” said Kevin Counihan, CEO of the exchange. “We look forward to working with them to bring a transparent, consumer-centric insurance marketplace to Connecticut.”

The exchange will require each carrier to submit standard plan designs that define cost sharing, including deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, copayment schedules, and benefits of the plan.

The health insurers who said they intend to offer plans in the new exchange can still opt out because the letters are nonbinding. Plans that did not meet the deadline can apply later, but the exchange may not accept them, said spokesman Jason Madrak.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have gotten conditional approval to set up and run their own exchanges.  Some others plan to partner with the federal goverment. Still others have said they want the federal government to operate their exchanges.