Congresswoman: Obamacare creating health insurance monopolies

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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Rep. Renee Ellmers raised awareness of a new problem with Obamacare’s implementation: the creation of private-sector health insurance monopolies that will limit Americans’ provider choices.

The major health insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield, which is closely coordinating with the White House on Obamacare implementation, will enjoy perhaps the greatest monopoly of all, the North Carolina Republican said in a statement.

“Although seven insurance companies currently operate in North Carolina, under the new Obamacare exchanges, those options will dwindle down to one in the majority of counties,” Ellmers said Thursday following the disclosure of figures by federal health officials showing that more than 60 percent of North Carolina counties will have only one insurance provider option under Obamacare: Blue Cross Blue Shield.

“The whole point of an online marketplace was to provide options, so North Carolinians could go online, compare prices, and choose plans from different companies. That is how competition is supposed to work!,” Ellmers said.

Beginning October 1 under Obamacare, Blue Cross Blue Shield will be the only health insurance provider serving the entire state of North Carolina in the new Obamacare exchanges, serving all 100 of the state’s counties. Its competitor Coventry Health Care, which is owned by Aetna, will only reach 39 counties.

That leaves 61 counties, or 61 percent of all the state’s counties, in a Blue Cross Blue Shield-only zone.

The battle between Blue Cross and Aetna is waging across the country, and Blue Cross is winning.

Aetna has opted not to participate in Obamacare exchanges in numerous states including New York, Connecticut, Ohio, Maryland, Tennessee, and Texas.

In West Virginia, where Carelink Health Plans, run by Aetna-owned Coventry Health Care, withdrew from the state’s Obamacare exchange, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield will be the only available insurance provider for Obamacare consumers.

Aetna announced this week that it would still serve all of Pennsylvania’s counties under Obamacare, following concern that the company would be opting out of the Keystone State’s exchanges, as well.

At least five Blue Cross Blue Shield executives joined President Obama for a closed White House conference in April on Obamacare implementation, accounting for approximately half of the executives present. No Aetna executives were at the meeting.

Blue Cross Blue Shield plans are even engaging in community organizing efforts in Louisiana, where the company is leading the state’s education campaign about enrollment in the unpopular health care exchanges.

“Most of them [Blue Cross competitors] are choosing only to sell off the exchange, which is not serving everyone in some of the poorer counties,” Lew Boreman, spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina, told The Daily Caller.

“Everyone was invited. A number of them are participating. It’s not a monopoly if everyone was invited to the dance but not everyone chose to show up,” Boreman said.

Boreman declined to comment on his company’s evident business disagreement with Aetna, or on how the Obamacare exchanges may be helping his company’s bottom line.

“We are out there taking this seriously. When we were called to serve the state of North Carolina with health insurance, we answered that call…We’re committed to enforcing the law of the land,” Boreman said.

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