By Robert Donachie
Some 35,000 people purchasing insurance on the Obamacare exchanges in 45 counties across the U.S. could have no insurance providers to choose from in 2018.
If the scenario plays out, it would be the first time that consumers are left without an insurance provider on the Obamacare exchanges since they first opened in 2014. Some 45 percent of U.S. counties, where approximately 12 million people purchase insurance, are expected to have one or zero providers in the marketplaces, The New York Times reported Friday.
— Darrell Issa (@DarrellIssa) June 12, 2017
A handful of providers are still deciding whether or not they will offer plans on the Obamacare exchanges in 2018, but a few have already opted out of the system entirely going forward. Many companies have opted out of the exchanges, or are highly considering reducing their exposure because President Donald Trump’s administration has yet to definitively say whether it will continue funding Obamacare subsidy payments past September. (RELATED: Senate Could Hit A Snag In Funding Obamacare Subsidies)
A large portion of Obamacare customers receive federal subsidies to pay for insurance. Low-to-moderate consumers in areas without an Obamacare insurance provider could be left without federal assistance to purchase health insurance.
Three of the most prominent insurers on the Obamacare exchanges are either ditching Obamacare entirely or are significantly scaling back their involvement in 2018. The resulting profits do not bode well for the future of former President Barack Obama’s landmark legislative achievement. The system is causing providers to hemorrhage money and is crushing consumers with backbreaking premium increases. (RELATED: Insurance Companies Ditching Obamacare Follow A Similar Pattern)
UnitedHealth was the first health insurance company to expose the most significant problem with the legislation — offering plans on Obamacare exchanges is a money-losing, profit sucking proposition.
In April 2016, the company announced a 765,000 reduction in the number of Obamacare exchange policies it planned to offer in 2017, citing massive profit losses of $475 million in 2015 and expected losses over $600 million for 2016.
The company reduced its exposure on the exchanges significantly, cutting its participation from 34 states in 2016 to just three in 2017 — Virginia, Nevada and New York. It plans to drop Obamacare plans in Virginia in 2018.
Other insurance companies are taking notice of UnitedHealth’s success. Health insurance providers Aetna and Humana are pushing one step further, completely opting out of Obamacare altogether in 2018.
Aetna pulled out of 11 exchanges in 2017, offering plans in only four states: Delaware, Iowa, Virginia and Nebraska. The company announced May 10 that it would stop offering Obamacare exchange plans in 2018, citing massive losses among exchange participants and projecting the problems to worsen over the short term. (RELATED: Aetna Ditches Obamacare Entirely)
Humana announced in February that it would pull out of all Obamacare exchanges in 2018. It was the first major insurance provider to opt out of Obamacare entirely under Trump.
The company said that it tried to provide plans on exchanges for years where it could offer a “viable product.” Its decision to stop offering plans on the exchanges came after “seeing signs of an unbalanced risk pool based on the results of the 2017 open enrollment period, therefore we’ve decided that we can’t continue to offer this coverage in 2018,” Bruce Broussard, chief executive of Humana, said in a statement.
One of the main rallying cries of Trump on the campaign trail was a continued pledge to “repeal and replace” the “disaster” known as Obamacare. The president’s supporters have been largely willing to overlook multiple Republican misteps to repeal Obamacare thus far and continue to throw their support behind his efforts.
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