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Insurer Anthem suggests it may leave Affordable Care Act by 2018

By
Ed Adamczyk
Anthem Inc. headquarters in Indianapolis, where CEO Joseph Swedish said Wednesday the health insurer may pull out of the affordable Care Act by 2018 if financial results do not improve. Photo by Serge Melki/Wikipedia
Anthem Inc. headquarters in Indianapolis, where CEO Joseph Swedish said Wednesday the health insurer may pull out of the affordable Care Act by 2018 if financial results do not improve. Photo by Serge Melki/Wikipedia

INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Health insurance company Anthem Inc. threatened to leave the Affordable Care Act by 2018 if financial results under the program do not improve.

Anthem's potential withdrawal from the ACA, also known as Obamacare, would indicate that nearly all major U.S. for-profit health insurers have pulled back from offering healthcare on government exchanges. UnitedHealth Group Inc., Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc. have already scaled back their involvement. Anthem currently sells health coverage in 14 states under the Blue Cross Blue Shield brand.

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In a conference call Wednesday to discuss third-quarter performance, Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish said "If we do not see clear evidence of an improving environment and a path towards sustainability in the marketplace, we will likely modify our strategy in 2018. Clearly, 2017 is a critical year as we continue to assess the long-term viability of our exchange footprint. The financial performance in individual ACA compliant products has been disappointing as membership has been short of our original expectations."

He added insurers need to obtain better prices under the law, and find ways to improve the regulations which govern the plans' sale and administration.

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Anthem reported third-quarter earnings Wednesday which fell short of expectations as medical spending increased because of costs associated with its Medicaid business. Full year adjusted profit will be $10.80 per share, after Anthem predicted earlier this year the figure would be higher.

Still, "Our third quarter 2016 earnings and financial metrics were consistent with our expectations, as reflected in our updated 2016 full year outlook," said CFO John Gallina.

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