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NewsHealth

Health insurer Health Republic will stop writing policies

Health Republic, the federally backed nonprofit health insurer with the second-highest percentage of individual and family enrollees on the state's health insurance exchange, will no longer be writing insurance policies, the state announced Friday afternoon.

Existing individual and family Health Republic insurance policies will remain in effect through the end of their policy terms on Dec. 31, the New York State Department of Financial Services said.

"Given Health Republic's financial situation, commencing an orderly wind down process before the upcoming open enrollment period is the best course of action to protect consumers," Anthony Albanese, acting superintendent of Financial Services, said in a statement.

The insurer reported a $53 million loss so far this year. Last year, the nonprofit lost $77.5 million.

It has the second-highest percentage of individual and family enrollees on the exchange -- 19 percent -- and the highest on the state's Small Business Health Options exchange for small businesses -- 35 percent. Through April 15 of last year, it was the third-most popular plan on Long Island for individuals and families, and the most popular on the small business exchange.

But it was struggling financially and had already withdrawn from the mid-Hudson market, which includes the Albany, Hudson Valley and Utica/Watertown regions, for next year.

The nonprofit was a creature of the Affordable Care Act, established to offer low-cost health care. Designated by the federal government as a Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP), the only one in New York, it was given $265 million in federal loans.

"Starting a new insurance company is a daunting task in any environment, but the challenges placed on us by the structure of the CO-OP program as enacted by a bitterly partisan Congress, were simply too difficult to overcome," Health Republic said in a statement.

On Long Island, Health Republic was one of 10 plans being offered on the New York State of Health next year. Open enrollment begins on Nov. 1.

Existing Health Republic small group plans for businesses -- which, unlike individual plans, do not all have calendar-year policy terms -- also remain in effect.

The Department of Financial Services and the New York State of Health said they "will evaluate the best course of action" for small group plans.

Jack Glanzer, president of The Granite Insurance Brokerage in Lynbrook, said about a third of both his individual and group business was with Health Republic. "This is a shock for me. Wait until I tell my clients," he said.

Under the terms of their contracts, providers must continue delivering care to Health Republic customers, the state said.

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