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200K Georgians To Lose Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance Next Year

The HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 6,  2015. Consumers shopping on the government’s health insurance website should find it easier this year to get basic questions answered about their doctors, medications and costs, according to an internal government document.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
The HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015. Consumers shopping on the government’s health insurance website should find it easier this year to get basic questions answered about their doctors, medications and costs, according to an internal government document. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Credit Andrew Harnik / Associated Press
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About 5 percent of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia’s 4 million members will lose their insurance plans as the company pulls out of the federal insurance exchange in metro Atlanta next year, the company said.

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Georgians who get their plans through the federal exchange in metro Atlanta now have only two choices left for insurance coverage,  Ambetter and Kaiser HMO, according to the Georgia Insurance Commissioner’s office. 

The reduction in insurance choices is due to “the failure in Washington to enact reforms and uncertainty about what 2018 will look like,” Georgia Deputy Insurance Commissioner Jay Florence said. 

Insurance companies throughout the country are still waiting to see if the Trump administration will continue to pay cost sharing subsidies that help insurers cover low-income families on the exchange. 

Anthem, the parent company of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, pulled out of the Nevada Exchange completely for next year.  

In Georgia, the company will still offer plans in the 85 mostly rural counties that would be left without any health insurance plan if BCBSGA departed the exchange completely.

That decision was celebrated by state officials, who say now there will be at least one insurer in every one of the state’s 159 counties. 

“It’s a big win for Georgia and the Department of Insurance,” Florence said. 

The insurance department did use some leverage to convince BCBSGA to stick around in those rural counties. Under Georgia law, Florence said, any pull out from the market would prohibit BDBSGA from selling individual plans in the state for five years. 

The company said it is glad it’s able to offer plans in counties that otherwise would not have any choices. 

BCBSGA said it “will continue to advocate for solutions that will stabilize the market and allow us to once again offer individual insurance coverage throughout the state of Georgia.”