Aetna will completely exit ACA exchanges in 2018

Darin HammondMay 12, 2017

The insurer said it is pulling out because of financial losses, adding that its individual commercial products lost almost $700 million between 2014 and 2016 and could lose another $200 million this year. Aetna is leaving that market, too. This year, it has 255,000 Obamacare policyholders compared with 964,000 at the end of last year.

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. It had to set aside an additional $110 million to cover larger-than-projected losses for this year.

In Delaware, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield company Highmark would be the lone Obamacare insurer, assuming no other company enters. T.J. Crawford, an Aetna spokesman, said the company had “no comment on a potential Nevada presence at this time.”.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price seized on the insurer's decision Wednesday night as the latest ammunition to bash Obamacare, as the ACA also is known. The exodus began previous year, when several carriers announced they were exiting or downsizing in 2017 after suffering large losses.

In February, another large USA health insurance company, Humana, announced it would quit the Obamacare market entirely in 2018, citing an "unbalanced risk pool". It had already dropped Iowa and Virginia for next year.

Several insurers remaining in Obamacare are requesting big rate hikes for next year.

Aetna lost $450 million past year on its almost 1 million customers with individual health policies on and off the insurance exchanges.

HealthKeepers, an affiliate of Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, hopes for a 38% increase.

Insurers are generally citing two reasons for the exits or rate hikes. That came after Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini told the Department of Justice that unrealized savings from a proposed merger with rival Humana would force the insurer to pull out of the market.

There has been some better news for Obamacare in recent weeks.

Americans left with one carrier may see higher prices.

Aetna announced in August 2016 that it was removing its offerings from roughly 70% of the exchanges in which the company participated.

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