Meritus placed under supervision, refuses, and is pulled from the Exchange

Just two days before open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace begins Nov. 1, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid has removed Meritus Health Partners from the Marketplace.

Today, the Arizona Department of Insurance filed an Order for Supervision to place Meritus Health Partners and Meritus Mutual Health Partners into supervision. Meritus declined to consent to the Order for Supervision, according to the Arizona Department of Insurance.

Meritus will honor their individual and group health insurance plans through the end of 2015, but may not issue new policies or renew existing policies.

That means 55,000 Meritus policyholders must shop for a new plan for 2016 coverage.

Teresa Ferrin, owner of Kierland Life and Health Insurance in Scottsdale, said consumers really should call a broker, because it’s very confusing to maneuver alone.

She said there are 69 plans available on the HealthCare.gov web site.

“An agent can help you with service, claims and competitive pricing, and there’s no extra cost involved,” she said.

Meritus received $93.3 million in start-up and solvency loans from CMS under the Affordable Care Act. It has not yet made a profit and has lost more than $78 million since its inception in 2012.

CMS is working with Arizona Department of Insurance officials to make sure consumers stay covered, said Aaron Albright, director of the media relations group for CMS.

“Our first responsibility is to make sure current policyholders are able to retain coverage through the end of the year,” Albright said. “While we expect that the co-op will wind down, it is premature to speculate on the recovery of the funds.”

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