LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Four insurance companies plan to sell their policies to more than 500,000 Arkansas residents through an online marketplace created under the federal health care law, the state Insurance Department announced Tuesday.

The department said four companies sent letters by Monday's deadline saying they'll participate in Arkansas' health insurance exchange, which will be operated next year as a partnership between the state and federal government. Open enrollment for the exchange begins Oct. 1.

The companies interested in the exchange are Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, National Blue Cross Blue Shield Multi-state plan, Celtic Insurance Company/NovaSys Health and QualChoice of Arkansas.

"I am pleased with the level of participation the industry continues to show," Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford said in a statement. "It has always been my desire, and in the best interest of the Arkansas consumer, to have as much competition and choice as possible on the Health Insurance Marketplace."

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