Two new names in health insurance from Minnesota plan to start selling coverage for next year on the government-run exchanges in Colorado and Florida.

Bright Health, a start-up based in Minneapolis, says it plans to sell in parts of Colorado for 2017 in conjunction with a local system of hospitals and clinics.

Meanwhile, an independent subsidiary of Minnetonka-based UnitedHealthcare called Harken Health says it wants to sell coverage for next year in the Fort Lauderdale and Miami markets in south Florida.

The moves follow a large pullback by UnitedHealthcare from exchanges that include Colorado, Florida and other states, in 2017.

That development has raised questions about the viability of the government-run marketplaces.

“As we are independent companies, our decisions on markets are made autonomously,” Tom Vanderheyden, the chief executive at Harken Health, said in an e-mail.

Harken Health launched this year by selling coverage in Atlanta and Chicago. The policies include unlimited access to free primary care, plus certain health and wellness services, at a limited number of health centers that Harken operates.

For 2017, Harken plans to add six new health centers in Chicago and two in Atlanta.

“Those centers will be joined by the 12 new locations across South Florida in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area on January 1, 2017,” Vanderheyden said.

Colorado would be the first market for Bright Health, which plans to sell coverage through the state’s health insurance exchange as well as the “off-exchange” market where people buy directly from insurers or through brokers.

Colorado is a “reasonably competitive marketplace,” but the state’s exchange next year will see departures not just from United but also by Kentucky-based Humana, said Bob Sheehy, the co-founder and chief executive at Bright Health.

“For 2017, we’re really focused on only Colorado — that will be the only market that we’re in,” Sheehy said.

Bright Health is touting its “exclusive care provider partnership” with Centura Health as a way to transform individual market coverage.

The exchange markets across the country have seen many examples of so-called “narrow network” plans that tend to give patients access to a subset of doctors and hospitals in a community.

Bright Health says the structure can boost care coordination and quality while making coverage more affordable.

The exchanges are government-run online marketplaces for health insurance that were created as part of the federal Affordable Care Act. They were launched for 2014 as part of major health law changes for the market of individuals and families who buy coverage outside of employer groups and government programs.

Minnesota is home to three other examples of health insurance carriers expanding in the individual market with the health law.

Earlier this month, Minnetonka-based Medica announced it would sell coverage for 2017 on the health exchange for Kansas. For 2016, Medica started selling individual coverage in Iowa and Nebraska.

Minneapolis-based UCare started selling individual market coverage in 2014, with policies available only through the state’s MNsure exchange. Golden Valley-based PreferredOne saw a dramatic expansion of its individual market business in 2014 as word spread of its rock-bottom rates on MNsure, but the insurer pulled back from the exchange for 2015 because of financial losses.


Twitter: @chrissnowbeck