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Arizona Insurance Co-op Won't Renew Policies for 2016

Some Arizona health insurance customers will have to find new coverage, since Meritus Health Partners will not issue or renew policies for 2016. Courtesy: Healthcare.gov
Some Arizona health insurance customers will have to find new coverage, since Meritus Health Partners will not issue or renew policies for 2016. Courtesy: Healthcare.gov
November 30, 2015

PHOENIX - Arizonans who have health insurance through Meritus Health Partners have just a few weeks left to enroll with a new carrier.

The Arizona Department of Insurance determined in October that the nonprofit health cooperative doesn't have the resources to continue operating in 2016. Meritus has said it can't find sufficient working capital and will close.

State Insurance Director Andy Tobin says Meritus policyholders will have a special enrollment period extending until Dec. 31 to sign up for coverage that begins in January, and they can start by looking at their options on the health insurance exchange.

"The good news that there are several plans on there," says Tobin. "In fact, there are several plans that came in less expensive than Meritus did for 2016. So, they'll probably do better, resource-wise."

He adds Meritus will still honor its current policies and pay claims made through the end of December, but won't issue any new policies or renew current ones for 2016. Meritus was one of 23 insurance co-ops created under the Affordable Care Act to provide competition, but about half of them have now failed.

Tobin says the shutdown would affect about one-quarter of those who signed up for insurance under the federal insurance exchange or "marketplace" created for Arizona. He says most of the policyholders are in the state's larger towns and cities, and quite a few will be scrambling to get new coverage.

"We're probably looking at 58,000 or 59,000," says Tobin. "A large majority of those are in Maricopa County, but we certainly do have (people in) Pima, Pinal, and some in Mojave County."

Tobin says Meritus policyholders have been notified both by email and regular mail. He recommends those affected get in touch with an insurance broker or look online at Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ