Aetna becomes latest insurer to flee ACA exchanges

Nebraska health care decisions uncertain amid deadline

Aetna will not offer insurance plans in DE or Nebraska, the remaining two states where it was slated to provide coverage. Its decision to stop offering plans came after "seeing signs of an unbalanced risk pool based on the results of the 2017 open enrollment period, therefore we've decided that we can't continue to offer this coverage in 2018", Bruce Broussard, chief executive of Humana, told reporters.

Regulators a year ago approved average rate increases in the individual market of 32.5 percent for Highmark and about 23 percent for Aetna. President Donald Trump has repeatedly predicted the demise of the law and its exchanges, and insurers are concerned about the fate of two provisions that keep the market working: a government subsidy that makes coverage more affordable, and a mandate that all people get insurance or pay a fine, which keeps costs lower by mixing healthy and sick people together.

Aetna's Individual Commercial products lost approximately $700 million between 2014 and 2016, and could lose another $200 million this year, the insurer estimated. T.J. Crawford, an Aetna spokesman, said the company had “no comment on a potential Nevada presence at this time.”.

Aetnas decision could leave Nebraska with just one insurer, Medica. He says, "It is essential that they speed this process up because insurance companies, if they all re-enter the Marketplace - well a lot of them went out of business- but if a number re-enter the Marketplace they have to have time to prepare for 2018". "Repealing and replacing it with patient-centered solutions that stabilize the marketplace to bring down costs and increase choices is the only solution".

Remaining insurers are requesting big rate hikes for next year.

Some insurers have stayed in, but raised premiums by double-digit percentages. HealthKeepers, an affiliate of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, hopes for a 38 percent increase. Policyholders are continuing to rack up bigger bills than their premiums cover, and insurers remain concerned about the uncertainty emanating from Washington D.C. Carriers are particularly anxious about whether they'll continue to receive the cost-sharing subsidies that reduce premiums for lower-income consumers and whether the Trump administration will keep enforcing the individual mandate, which helps entice healthier people into the market.

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