West Virginia health insurance exchange
Enrollment in private plans slow in West Virginia, but expanded Medicaid significantly reducing ranks of uninsured
By Louise Norris
November 27, 2013
More than 7000 people completed applications in West Virginia’s exchange during the first month of open enrollment, although just 198 people had selected a plan by November 12. But West Virginia is also expanding Medicaid, and had prequalified almost 55,000 people - nearly a quarter of the state’s uninsured population – for Medicaid coverage by November 21. The state expects a total of 91,500 people to eventually enroll in the expanded Medicaid program.
After first developing plans to operate a state-run health insurance exchange, West Virginia submitted a blueprint for a partnership exchange to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The blueprint for the West Virginia Health Insurance Marketplace was approved in March 2013.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s administration cited cost, particularly the expense associated with information technology systems, as a key factor in deciding against a state-run exchange. Administration officials also said the partnership gives the state some control over the exchange.
Under the partnership, West Virginia is responsible for regulating the companies that sell health insurance policies on the exchange. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is the only carrier offering coverage – a total of eleven different plans – in the West Virginia exchange. Carelink/Coventry Health had also been approved as a QHP, but pulled out in September 2013. The lowest cost bronze plan in the WV exchange costs an average of $280/month, higher than the national average of $249.
The state also oversees the In-Person Assister (IPA) program. Assisters will be under contract with the state and provide individuals impartial help with the enrollment process. In November, the state announced that it would be hiring an additional 100 people to help residents enroll in the exchange and the state’s expanded Medicaid program.
The West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) estimates that between 40,000 and 60,000 West Virginians will purchase insurance through the exchange. According to Kaiser’s State Health Facts, 14 percent of West Virginians — about 260,000 people — are currently uninsured.
Contact the exchange
West Virginia residents will enroll through the federally facilitated exchange; enrollment runs October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014
West Virginia health insurance exchange links
State Exchange Profile: West Virginia
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of West Virginia’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.