Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield confirmed Wednesday it will remain in the state's individual insurance marketplace.
The news came one day after Carelink/Coventry Health Care, the only other option, pulled out of the state's marketplace. That leaves Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield the only option for West Virginians to buy subsidized health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
"The word just yesterday in West Virginia was that the only other participating company - was Coventry . . . and it looks like they are pulling out of the exchange, leaving Highmark West Virginia as the only participating plan" Highmark CEO William Winkenwerder said in a conference call Wednesday.
"We do intend to make good on our commitment to continue to participate. We'll be there and enrolling people in the West Virginia plan."
The health insurance marketplace is part of the Affordable Care Act, which aims to cover the uninsured. The exchange is a partnership between the state and federal government.
Only two insurance companies applied to be accepted to West Virginia's marketplace. Both Highmark and Carelink/Coventry were accepted.
This situation is much different than some other states, like California, said Perry Bryant, executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.
"In California, they had 39 insurance companies apply to come into the marketplace," he said. "They rejected 26 and said we don't think you're good enough to get into the marketplace, and they allowed 13 into the marketplace. So, that makes the average premium for insurance pretty modest."
With only one insurance company in the marketplace, competition is all but eliminated.
"If we had more competition, you'd probably see more competitive premiums. Nobody knows what the premiums are yet, but will there be affordable prices despite lack of competition? We just don't know yet," Bryant said.
"It's important that Highmark is going to participate in the marketplace.
"We've very grateful they are. And I suspect there will be a lot of West Virginias happy Highmark is going to continue to participate. It's a challenging environment for insurance companies, so I'm glad Highmark rose to the occasion."