Aetna fully exits Obamacare exchanges with pull-out in 2 states

Health insurers exit leaves Nebraska and Delaware with a single private insurer

Brendan Mcdermid—X90143
FILE PHOTO: A trader points up at a display on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange August 20

LOS ANGELES — Health insurer Aetna Inc said on
Wednesday it will exit the 2018 Obamacare individual insurance
market in Delaware and Nebraska – the two remaining states where
it offered the plans.Aetna had already said it would exit the individual
commercial market in Virginia and Iowa, after pulling out of
several other states last year.Aetna has now “completely exited the exchanges,” the company
said in an emailed statement.Insurers Humana Inc and UnitedHealth Group Inc
have also pulled out of most of the government
subsidized individual health insurance market.Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives last week
voted to undo the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare,
the signature domestic achievement of former President Barack
Obama.But even if the Republicans’ bill – known as the American
Health Care Act – is passed by the Senate it would not solve a
critical outstanding issue for insurers looking at 2018: Will
the government continue to fund the cost-sharing subsidies that
help individuals pay for care?Health insurers have said they cannot plan amid the
uncertainty. In addition, the balance of sick and healthy
customers has been worse than expected, and premium rates on the
individual insurance market went up 25 percent this year.”This decision is not a surprise given continued uncertainty
about market stability and whether cost-sharing subsidies will
continue to flow,” Evercore ISI analyst Michael Newshel said in
an investor research note.He noted that only one health plan remains in both
Delaware, where Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield sells Obamacare
coverage, and Nebraska, where Medica still offers coverage but
has warned it may exit the program.Aetna projected around $225 million in losses from its
exchange plan businesses this year following a loss of $700
million for 2014 through 2016.The insurer attributed the losses to “marketplace structural
issues, that have led to co-op failures and carrier exits, and
subsequent risk pool deterioration.”Aetna said it had 964,000 individual commercial plan members
as of the end of 2016, but that number dropped to 255,000 at the
end of March.Evercore ISI said Delaware exchange sign-ups fell 2.4
percent year-over-year in 2017, while sign-ups in Nebraska fell
3.9 percent, which was close to the 3.7 percent nationwide drop.