6:00: Morning News

CareSource officials ‘pleased’ with 1st year of enrollments on West Virginia’s insurance exchange

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Officials with CareSource, only the second company to ever offer health insurance plans on the West Virginia marketplace created in the Affordable Care Act, are calling the first year for enrollments a success.

So far, enrollments are 20 percent higher than CareSource had forecasted with more than 1,800 West Virginians signing up for health insurance plans from the nonprofit health plan company that’s based in Dayton, Ohio, according to early CareSource numbers.

“We started out with a long term in mind. We did initial research with West Virginians to find out what the needs were and we wanted to come in and do it right,” said Scott Streator, senior vice president for CareSource’s Market and Product Group.

Currently, CareSource is offering health insurance plans in 10 West Virginia counties. Those counties are Brooke, Cabell, Hancock, Kanawha, Lincoln, Marshall, Mason, Ohio, Putnam and Wayne.

CareSource also operates in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

For 2016, the average age of the West Virginians enrolling with CareSource was around 45 while the average family size was 1.3 and most opted for the Silver Plan.

“That’s really good news because 90 percent received a subsidy which, on average, was about $400 a month and that pays for nearly two-thirds of their premiums,” Streator said.

At this point, Streator would only confirm his company planned to increase West Virginia offerings “significantly” next year.

He said “hundreds” of new contracts had been signed with health systems and physicians, but indicated it would be later this year before possible county additions were finalized for the 2017 coverage year.

“We plan on continuing to grow our program both within counties as well as new counties,” Streator said of future plans for West Virginia. “We ask questions like: Where can we have the most impact? What counties need us the most? Where are the largest pockets of opportunities?”

This year is the first year West Virginians in those ten counties have had other insurance options beyond health insurance plans offered through Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield which remains the only company offering coverage on the Mountain State’s exchange statewide.

The window for the third open enrollment season for the Affordable Care Act closed on Sunday, Jan. 31. Enrollments are permitted now only in cases where there are life changes like marriages, births, lost health insurance through divorce or other specified circumstances.

A representative for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield told MetroNews their figures for the latest enrollment period would not be available until April.

Nationally, nearly 13 million people enrolled for health plans through ACA insurance marketplaces before the deadline for the third open enrollment period, according to federal figures, which was up by about one million from enrollments for 2015.

“The totals exceed our expectations,” Sylvia Mathews Burwell, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, previously said.

Many adults who are not insured this year will face higher penalties of $695 per person or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever amount is higher.

West Virginia is one of 38 states where marketplace enrollments are handled through the government website, healthcare.gov.

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