Blue Cross Blue Shield pulls out of much of Georgia, leaving some in insurance limbo

The largest health insurance provider in Georgia, Blue Cross Blue Shield, will be pulling out of 74 counties in the state beginning next year / Evan Watson (WGXA)

MACON, Ga. -- The largest health insurance provider in Georgia, Blue Cross Blue Shield, will be stop individual coverage in 74 counties in the state beginning next year.

That change will leave many of these counties, including some in Middle Georgia, without a single health insurer through the individual marketplace until another provider fills the void.

The counties in Middle Georgia that will be left without insurance pending the arrival of another provider include Taylor, Macon, Sumter and Crisp County. Blue Cross Blue Shield will also be pulling out of Chatham County, much of southwest Georgia and all of north Georgia, including the Atlanta area.

The insurance company cited growing uncertainty in the healthcare market as the reason for pulling out of the state.

"A stable insurance market is dependent on products that create value for consumers through the broad spreading of risk and a known set of conditions upon which rates can be developed," reads a statement from Blue Cross Blue Shield. "We are pleased that some steps have been taken to address the long term challenges all health plans serving the individual market are facing. However, the continued uncertainty makes it difficult for us to offer Individual health plans statewide."

Fred Ammons, CEO of Community Health Works, said that anyone who is currently insured with Blue Cross Blue Shield through the individual marketplace will be automatically placed on a comparable plan when the company pulls out beginning on Jan. 1. However, he said that in the past, this process hasn't been as reliable as hoped.

Ammons also said that another insurance company, Ambetter, is looking to open up shop in the counties that will be temporarily left without insurance after Blue Cross Blue Shield leaves. This could prevent many counties from being left entirely without a provider.

He said that if you are currently in the market for health insurance for next year, it is best to shop in October and buy in November.

Additionally, he said that this year, the time to sign up is only one and a half months instead of the previous three months, so it is best to move fast when selecting a health insurance plan.

State Rep. Patty Bentley, who represents Taylor and Macon County, said she is very concerned for her constituents that at the moment they don't have options for health insurance. She said she has plans to return to the capitol to ask what can be done to ensure that people in her district have options in the next cycle.

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