Insurer exits leave holes in the marketplace as uncertainty spreads
Friday, June 16, 2017
Anthem health insurance plans will not be serving Ohio residents through the Affordable Care Act in 2018, the company recently announced. As a result, 10,500 Ohioans will lose their plans.
According to reports, residents in 20 mostly rural counties will be without an option for buying individual coverage on the exchange unless another insurer decides to offer plans there in the coming months. The news might be tough to take for citizens in these rural areas, which already traditionally lack proper access to care.
In its statement, Anthem said one of the reasons for its exit is "increasing lack of overall predictability."
And Anthem isn't alone. According to a report by Edmund Haislmaier, a senior research fellow for the Center for Health Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, uncertainty is driving insurers out of the ACA marketplace, as there are now only 287 exchange-participating insurers — down from 307 in 2015, and 395 in 2013.
As reported by the Urbana Daily Citizen, "Many insurers, like Anthem, have said they are worried about the future of the exchanges, which generally make up a small slice of their business but have generated steep losses for them and soaring prices for many customers."
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is leaving the exchanges in Missouri, the company announced in May. This decision leaves 25 counties there with no exchange options.
Insurer Aetna said in May that it won't sell individual coverage in Nebraska and Delaware after projecting a $200 million loss this year. The insurer had already pulled out of several states after losing about $450 million in 2016.
Aetna also announced in April that it is leaving Iowa. That came after news that Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield said it plans to leave the state's individual market after just one year. Insurer Medica also may leave Iowa.
In Tennessee, Humana announced earlier this year that it would leave that state's exchanges — 16 counties have no exchange coverage there for the coming plan year. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee will try to fill that void.
The Mercury News says that 12 million people across the U.S. bought coverage through the exchanges for the current plan year, most of whom used tax credits to help buy coverage.
Republicans in Congress continue to work on an ACA replacement bill. So far, House has passed the American Health Care Act, but the bill is stalled in the Senate while it gets reworked. Senate Republicans have yet come to an agreement regarding the House bill provisions that may be waved.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking as more and more insurers abandon healthcare exchanges across the country.
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