ConnectiCare Benefits Inc. announced Friday that it is withdrawing its proposal to sell small-group health insurance through the state’s health insurance exchange.

The company still intends to sell health plans to individuals through the exchange, known as Access Health CT, a new insurance marketplace created as part of the federal health reform law.

The withdrawal leaves three carriers in the small-group exchange, which will sell insurance for employees of businesses with up to 50 workers beginning Oct. 1.

The other insurers are Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, HealthyCT and UnitedHealthcare. They have submitted rate proposals to the Connecticut Insurance Department, which is expected to issue decisions on them next week. The regulator can approve or reject the rates, or require they be adjusted.

Aetna previously decided to offer coverage in the state’s individual exchange only.

A statement released by ConnectiCare Friday afternoon said it had decided to focus on the individual market but would monitor the small-group exchange and consider offering plans through it in the future.

ConnectiCare’s announcement follows news that HealthyCT, a new nonprofit insurer, was lowering its proposed rates for plans to be sold through the exchange. The company’s CEO attributed the drop to new data indicating the pool of likely purchasers was healthier than previously anticipated, and to the expected effects of care coordination programs on medical costs.

The exchange is expected to sell insurance to 80,000 to 100,000 state residents in its first year. Many will qualify for federally subsidized discounts for their insurance costs. It will begin selling plans Oct. 1, and the coverage will take effect Jan. 1.

Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

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