Aetna Inc. will leave the
few remaining states where it had been selling Obamacare plans next
year, making it the latest health insurer to pull out of the health law as
Republicans attack the program as failing and work to dismantle it.
While the move is likely to
attract outsize political attention, the decision affects just Delaware and
Nebraska. The Hartford, Connecticut-based insurer already said last year it
would pull out of 11 states, and in the last month announced plans to exit
Iowa and Virginia.
“At this time have completely
exited the exchanges,” Aetna said in a statement Wednesday. The insurer will
also stop selling non-Obamacare individual plans in Delaware and Nebraska.
Aetna had indicated it might pull
out earlier this month, when Chief Financial Officer Shawn Guertin said the
company would take steps to limit its financial losses in the program. Aetna
has said it expects to lose more than $200 million on individual health plans
this year in the four states where it’s still selling Affordable Care Act
Obamacare’s markets are becoming
increasingly vulnerable as major health insurers exit, citing financial
losses. Some insurers have stayed in, but raised the premiums they charge
customers by double-digit percentages.
Problems new and old
Some of the instability has been
going on for years, as fewer people than expected have signed up for plans and
many have been sicker than insurers accounted for. Those problems have been
further pushed by Republicans, who are considering legislation in Congress to
repeal and replace large portions of the health law, and by President Donald
Trump, who has threatened to withhold support from key portions of the law that
keep the markets functioning.
Aetna’s decision could leave
Nebraska with just one insurer, Medica. Medica has pulled back as well, saying
it may exit the program in Iowa, leaving much of the state without insurance
options under Obamacare.
Greg Bury, a Medica spokesman,
said, “We have not made a decision and are reviewing all of our options.”
In Delaware, the Blue Cross and
Blue Shield company Highmark would be the lone Obamacare insurer, assuming no
other company enters. Highmark didn’t return a request for comment. The state’s
insurance regulator blamed “the uncertainty and instability surrounding the
future of the Affordable Care Act” for Aetna’s exit.
“I would hope that our elected
officials in Washington will come up with solutions to guarantee that health
insurance in Delaware and elsewhere is both available and affordable,”
Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro said in a statement.
Aetna may not be entirely out of
Obamacare. Nevada has said it was working to convince the insurer to offer
individual plans in the state for next year. T.J. Crawford, an Aetna spokesman,
said the company had “no comment on a potential Nevada presence at this time.”
here for the original article from Benefits Pro.