CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginians will have fewer options for choosing health plans on the Health Insurance Marketplace than people in most other parts of the country, according to a report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Uninsured West Virginians can choose from 12 health insurance plans beginning Oct. 1, according to the report. On average, Americans will have 53 plans to choose from in the 36 states where the federal government will run or support the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Depending on the state, people will have as few as six and as many as 169 plans to choose from in their marketplaces.
West Virginia's Health Insurance Marketplace has one company, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of West Virginia. About 95 percent of Americans, however, will have a choice of two or more health insurance companies, according to the report.
The choices on the marketplace available to West Virginians closely mimic those available in the private market, said Perry Bryant, executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.
"It's a real reflection of what our limited choices are already," Bryant said. "I'm kind of disappointed we didn't attract more carriers."
He added that he is grateful that Highmark decided to join the marketplace.
People are not required to purchase their health insurance through the marketplace, but, with some exceptions, they must have health insurance coverage somehow -- or face a tax penalty.