Pinehurst, N.C. — FirstCarolinaCare Insurance Co. announced Thursday that it has abandoned its plan to offer health insurance coverage through North Carolina's online marketplace, which opens in three weeks.
The Pinehurst-based insurance company had proposed 16 plans to sell in the marketplace, also known as a health exchange, under the Affordable Care Act. The plans would have been limited to residents of Moore, Richmond, Montgomery, Hoke, Scotland and Lee counties.
The Affordable Care Act requires everyone nationwide to obtain health coverage, starting in 2014, or face a tax penalty. Each state has its own exchange, where people can compare prices and coverage options, and open enrollment starts Oct. 1.
"This was not a step taken lightly,” Kenneth Lewis, president of FirstCarolinaCare Insurance, said in a statement. “When we originally proposed participation in the exchange, we recognized that there were many unknowns for all of us. However, after months of review, there continue to be uncertainties in the exchange implementation and processes for insurers."
The company's withdrawal leaves Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and Coventry Health Care of the Carolinas as the only insurers offering plans through the exchange.
Lewis said he expects residents in FirstCarolinaCare's service area will still have "viable options for individual insurance coverage" through the exchange.
“Our goal for 2014 is to continue to focus our efforts on improving the health of our community and provide coverage options where we can be competitive and add the most value to the market,” he said. “The individual marketplace landscape will undoubtedly change in the coming months, and we will re-evaluate our decision next year to determine if it will be a more competitive environment in which to participate.”