Anthem to bolt from Ohio health insurance exchange

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield will pull out of Ohio’s Health Insurance Marketplace at the end of this year, following in the footsteps of competitor, Aetna, which pulled out of the federal health insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) earlier this year.

Anthem announced its decision to exit the marketplace Tuesday, affecting about 44,000 exchange members in Ohio, according to figures provided by the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI).

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Anthem said it will continue to offer an off-exchange individual health insurance plan in Ohio in Pike County next year, but the company’s exit from the marketplace means residents of at least 18 Ohio counties will have no options on the state exchange next year unless another health insurer steps in to fill the void.

“For the past few years we have seen a weakening in the federal insurance marketplace as a number of companies have withdrawn from the exchange,” ODI spokesman Chris Brock said in a statement. “The Department of Insurance is looking for options to help the approximately 10,500 Ohioans in counties where there may not be an exchange plan when this takes effect in 2018.”

Anthem, which said its decision to drop out of the state exchange does not impact individuals or families with grandfathered plans, pointed to the uncertainty surrounding President Donald Trump’s-endorsed GOP plan to replace the ACA, commonly referred to as Obamacare, as the impetus for the move.

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“We are pleased that some steps have been taken to address the long term challenges all health plans serving the individual market are facing, such as improving the eligibility requirements that allow consumers to purchase a plan outside of open enrollment and improved risk adjustment,” Anthem stated. “However, the Individual market remains volatile and the lack of certainty of funding for cost sharing reduction subsidies, the restoration of taxes on fully insured coverage and, an increasing lack of overall predictability simply does not provide a sustainable path forward to provide affordable plan choices for consumers.”

Still, Anthem reserved the right to return to Ohio’s insurance exchange at a later date: “As the Individual marketplace continues to evolve, Anthem will continue to advocate solutions that will stabilize the market to allow us to return to a more robust presence in the future.”

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