from the NAHU Newswire:
Citing huge financial losses, the Wall Street Journal (8/15, Mathews, Subscription Publication) reports Aetna announced on Monday that it will pull back from 11 of the 15 states where it currently offers individual insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchanges. In a statement, Healthcare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan said Aetna’s decision does “not change the fundamental fact that the Health Insurance Marketplace will continue to bring quality coverage to millions of Americans next year and every year after that.” The move highlights concerns about competitive options in the exchanges, leaving some counties like Pinal in Arizona at risk of not having insurers offering ACA plans in 2017. An HHS spokesman said the department is working together with the Arizona Department of Insurance and remains assured that all Arizona residents will have access to coverage in 2017.
The New York Times (8/16, Pear, Subscription Publication) reports the announcement was “a blow” to the ACA, and “Obama administration officials reacted angrily” to it, suggesting that Aetna’s move was retaliation for the Justice Department suing to block its proposed merger with Humana. Counihan insisted “the marketplace would remain strong and vibrant despite Aetna’s decision.” He stated, “It’s no surprise that companies are adapting at different rates to a market where they compete for business on cost and quality, rather than by denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.”
Similarly, Bloomberg News (8/16, Tracer) reports that Aetna’s announcement is “the latest blow” to the ACA. The piece adds that while the healthcare law “has brought coverage to millions, the new markets have proven volatile for some of the largest for-profit insurers, and UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Humana Inc. are also pulling out, after posting hundreds of millions of dollars of their own losses.”
Reuters (8/15, Humer) reports Aetna said Monday it will only continue selling plans on the ACA exchanges in Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska, and Virginia in 2017. The plans, which qualify for subsides for low-income individuals, will be sold in just “242 counties, down from 778 counties this year.”
The Washington Times (8/15, Morton, Howell) reports Aetna “initially planned to expand into more states for the 2017 plan year,” but instead decided to withdraw from the exchanges. The Times says this move will likely fuel criticism from ACA opponents, “who say it is time to start over with ‘market-oriented’ reforms.”