Anthem to pull out of Ohio healthcare exchange in 2018

By Allen Cone   |   Updated June 6, 2017 at 8:04 PM
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June 6 (UPI) -- Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced Tuesday it will pull out of the Ohio exchange next year, leaving about 20 counties in the state without Affordable Care Act marketplace plans.

Anthem hasn't exited the 13 other states where it provides coverage and has already filed with regulators to continue coverage in Virginia, Maine and Connecticut.

"A stable insurance market is dependent on products that create value for consumers through the broad spreading of risk and a known set of conditions upon which rates can be developed," Anthem said in a statement. "Today, planning and pricing for ACA-compliant health plans has become increasingly difficult due to the shrinking individual market as well as continual changes in federal operations, rules and guidance."

Anthem, which has 44,000 exchange policyholders in Ohio, said it will continue renewing policies for individuals in the state whose coverage was grandfathered in before the Obama-era law -- and that it will continue selling ACA-compliant individual policies in one small county: Pike.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said no policies will be available for 10,500 previously covered customers in 20 counties.

"For the past few years we've seen premiums and deductibles skyrocket because of the Obamacare law, as we've seen a declining number of viable healthcare choices for families and small businesses," Portman, a Republican and ACA critic, said in a statement.

Uncertainty surrounds the ACA, commonly known as Obamacare, after the House passed the Republican American Health Care Act last month. The Senate, however, has not voted on it yet. On May 24, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the new plan would leave 14 million more Americans uninsured next year than the ACA would.

Earlier this year, insurance providers Aetna and Humana announced they would also abandon the individual markets in 2018. Another big provider, Cigna, remains throughout the nation.

In April, Anthem said that its ACA business is doing "significantly better" this year.

The Ohio Department of Insurance told Cleveland.com there may be 18 counties without marketplace providers next year because other insurers will move their coverage markets. The filing deadline for insurers to participate in Ohio's marketplaces was Monday.

Among the state's providers, Medical Mutual of Ohio has also scaled back from offering coverage on the ACA marketplace in 56 counties this year.

"I think it's fair to say that we may be looking at any option we may have over the next few weeks," Ohio Department of Insurance spokesman Chris Brock said. That includes asking other insurers to move into the counties with no coverage.

Anthem generated $85 billion in revenue last year and net income of $2.46 billion, according to the company's annual filing. The company was founded in 1940s as WellPoint, Inc., and changed its name in 2013.

Anthem is the largest for-profit managed healthcare company among the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

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