AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

United Healthcare won't sell on Georgia insurance exchange

United Healthcare will not sell Georgia plans next year on the federal health insurance marketplace, the state insurance department said Friday.

United is the only insurer that has notified the state that it will not participate on the federal exchange in 2017, the department said. United's subsidiary, Harken Health, will remain on the exchange next year.

More than 500,000 Georgians purchased plans on the exchange this year, which is one of the key features of the federal health care law. People who buy plans on the exchange can qualify for income-based subsidies to help pay for their insurance.

"Anytime you lose an insurer, that's an issue," said Bill Custer, a health insurance expert at Georgia State University. "It's less choice for consumers and less competition."

The announcement, however, was not a huge surprise, Custer said. United had already told investors that their exchange plans weren't doing as well as they had hoped.

"They said they were losing money on the exchange and they thought that the exchange market wasn't settled enough for them to find it profitable," Custer said.

Custer said the insurance marketplace is a new model and companies are still working to understand the market and develop the infrastructure they need to compete.

"This is part of that shake-out period that we're likely to see continue for the next few years," he said.

Here are the insurers that are offering plans in Georgia this year on the federal health care marketplace, according to the Georgia Department of Insurance:

  1. Aetna Health
  2. Alliant Health Plan
  3. Ambetter of Peach State
  4. Blue Cross Blue Shield
  5. Cigna Health and Life Insurance
  6. Harken Health Insurance
  7. Humana Health Insurance
  8. Kaiser Foundation
  9. United Healthcare

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About the Author

Carrie Teegardin is on the investigative team. She is a graduate of Duke University and has won numerous national journalism awards.