KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Some States To Be Left With Few Or No ACA Options After Aetna’s Pullback

Media outlets report from Arizona, Iowa, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas on what Aetna's exit from most health law marketplaces means for the states.

The Associated Press: Insurers Continue To Abandon ACA Exchanges, Limiting Choice
Aetna will abandon Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges next year in more than two-thirds of the counties where it now sells the coverage, the latest in a string of defections by big insurers that will limit customer choice in many markets. Dwindling insurer participation is becoming a concern, especially for rural markets, in part because competition is supposed to help control insurance price hikes, and many carriers have already announced plans to seek increases of around 10 percent or more for 2017. (Murphy, 8/16)

Bloomberg: Insurer Exits From Obamacare Turn Few Choices Into None 
The 400,000-population county southeast of Phoenix currently doesn’t have a single health insurer offering coverage next year on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges, where Americans can shop for the insurance they’re required to have under the law. With the impending pullout of major health insurers -- including Aetna Inc., UnitedHealth Group Inc., and Humana Inc. -- Pinal County is just one place around the country where Americans will be left with few, if any, choices for coverage. (Tracer and Darie, 8/16)

Arizona Republic: Aetna Plans To Drop Affordable Care Act Health-Insurance Coverage In Arizona
With health-insurance giant Aetna dropping Affordable Care Act coverage in Arizona and 10 other states next year, Pinal County residents could be left without a health-insurance marketplace option unless another insurer adds coverage to the fast-growing county. Aetna planned to expand in Pinal, and was poised to be the county's only marketplace option when coverage for the new year begins Jan. 1. But the insurer announced this week that it would drop ACA plans in Pinal and Maricopa counties as part of a nationwide pullback. (Alltucker, 8/16)

The Hill: Arizona County At Risk Of Having No ObamaCare Option 
Aetna’s retreat from most ObamaCare marketplaces this week is rippling across rural America, starting with Pinal County in Arizona. The county, which has a population of about 400,000, no longer has any insurers planning to sell coverage through ObamaCare next year. (Ferris, 8/16)

The Star Tribune: Aetna Exiting Exchanges ... But Stays In Iowa, Nebraska
Connecticut-based health insurance giant Aetna added to the drumbeat of woes for the nation's health insurance exchanges on Monday evening by announcing exits from most of the 778 counties where it currently competes. Aetna will continue to sell exchange policies in 242 counties across four states -- Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska and Virginia. (Snowbeck, 8/16)

Georgia Health News: Another Big Defection From Georgia Insurance Exchange
Aetna says it will pull out of the insurance exchange in Georgia and 10 other states in 2017, further limiting consumers’ choice of health plans here under the Affordable Care Act. The insurance giant is following on the heels of another major insurer, UnitedHealthcare, in dropping exchange coverage for individuals in Georgia and several states. Separately, state insurance officials told GHN on Tuesday that Cigna also won’t offer exchange plans in Georgia next year. Cigna officials could not be reached for comment by late afternoon. An exit by Cigna, which currently has about 1,500 members in the exchange, would leave just six health insurers in the ACA marketplace in the state, down from nine this year. (Miller, 8/16)

Health News Florida: Aetna’s Exit Leaves Floridians With Fewer Obamacare Options
Next year Aetna will stop offering health insurance on the Affordable Care Act's public exchanges in Florida and 10 other states. The move leaves Floridians with fewer choices and ever increasing rates. So far, 11 companies have requested to sell insurance in Florida on the federal exchanges in 2017. That's down from 19 insurers in 2016. (Ochoa, 8/16)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Aetna Pulls Out Of ACA Exchange In Pa.
Aetna Inc.'s decision to withdraw from Affordable Care Act exchanges in Pennsylvania and 10 other states means that Independence Blue Cross will be the only major firm offering individual plans for 2017 to Southeastern Pennsylvania residents. Aetna serves about 31,000 Pennsylvanians through the marketplace, about 6 percent of the state's individual health insurance market, according to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. Coverage for those people will not change this year. (Brubaker, 8/17)

Dallas Morning News: Seven More Texas Counties Could See Just One Obamacare Option In 2017
Last year, at least 50 of the state’s counties had only one insurer to offer an individual market plan, according to data from the Texas Department of Insurance. With Aetna’s pull-out, another seven could find themselves in that situation in 2017, unless other plans are introduced to those areas. With a population of just over 116,000, Parker County just west of Fort Worth is the largest. The others counties include: Colorado, Matagorda, Palo Pinto, San Jacinto, Wharton and Wilson.  (Rice, 8/16)

Dallas Morning News: Aetna Will Not Offer Obamacare Exchange Plans In Texas In 2017 
Next year Aetna will not sell plans in Texas on the individual health insurance exchange marketplace established under the Affordable Care Act.  Citing more than $430 million in losses since 2014 and enrollment that skews heavily toward individuals in need of high-cost care, the company announced Monday that it will reduce its presence on the individual public exchange in 2017, from 778 U.S. counties to 242.  (Rice, 8/16)

Austin Statesman: Thousands Affected In Texas As Aetna Rolls Back Obamacare Plans
Thousands of Texans with Aetna policies from the federal marketplace will need to find other coverage. Thousands of Aetna policyholders in Texas will have to find new health care coverage next year after Aetna, the country’s third-largest insurer, said it is leaving the federal insurance marketplace created by President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Aetna is among several large insurers losing money selling their plans in the “Obamacare” marketplaces, raising questions about the stability and future of the business. (Eaton, 8/16)

Houston Chronicle: Aetna Joins Insurers Scaling Back ACA Offerings 
Aetna will no longer provide health insurance through the federal exchange in Texas and 10 other states next year, the latest blow to the Affordable Care Act as insurers request rate increases, narrow their networks or exit markets altogether. The carrier's departure isn't likely to seriously damage the law known as Obamacare or affect Texans drastically, but experts said Tuesday that the underlying trends could have long-term consequences. (Rumbaugh and Ackerman, 8/16)

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