KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Aetna Pulling Out Of All ACA Marketplaces Amid Uncertainty, Financial Losses

While the company's decision only affects two states, the move has political ramifications in an environment where everyone is tensed for a potential "death spiral."

The Washington Post: Aetna Exiting All ACA Insurance Marketplaces In 2018
Aetna will complete its withdrawal from Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges for 2018, announcing on Wednesday that lingering financial losses and uncertainty about the marketplaces’ future was prompting it to exit two final states. According to an Aetna spokesman, the insurer will not sell individual health plans next year in Delaware or Nebraska. Its announcement came a week after the company said it would stop offering ACA health plans in Virginia in 2018 and a month after it said it would leave Iowa. (Goldstein, 5/10)

The Wall Street Journal: Aetna To Pull Out Of Current Affordable Care Act Exchanges
Aetna said its individual plans are projected to lose more than $200 million this year, and “those losses are the result of marketplace structural issues that have led to co-op failures and carrier exits, and subsequent risk pool deterioration.” The insurer said that “at this time [we] have completely exited the exchanges.” (Wilde Mathews, 5/10)

Reuters: Aetna Fully Exits Obamacare Exchanges With Pull-Out In Two States
"This decision is not a surprise given continued uncertainty about market stability and whether cost-sharing subsidies will continue to flow," Evercore ISI analyst Michael Newshel said in an investor research note. He noted that only one health plan remains in both Delaware, where Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield sells Obamacare coverage, and Nebraska, where Medica still offers coverage but has warned it may exit the program. (Beasley, 5/10)

CQ Roll Call: Aetna To Exit Obamacare Markets For 2018
The political significance is greater than the impact on consumers. Aetna had already scaled back its presence and did not rule out entering another state market in 2018. But it is the second major national insurance company, after Humana, to abandon the pool of customers who buy their insurance coverage from those companies on and state-based exchanges for 2018. (Mershon, 5/10)

Meanwhile —

Modern Healthcare: Health Insurers' Proposed 2018 Rate Hikes Are Early 'Warning Signs' 
Health insurers are asking state regulators to approve giant rate increases for 2018 individual policies, in part because they don't yet know if the Trump administration plans to help or hurt the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges. Insurers in the three states that have published requested rates say their double-digit hikes, which exceed 50% in some cases, may climb even higher if the federal government doesn't take steps to ease their jitters over ACA repeal-and-replace efforts by funding cost-sharing reduction subsidies and enforcing the mandate that requires most people to enroll in coverage. (Livingston, 5/10)

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