Aetna will leave most Obamacare exchanges, projecting losses

From The Washington Post:

Aetna, the nation’s third largest health insurer, announced Monday night that it will dramatically pull back from the marketplaces set up by the Affordable Care Act,  cutting its participation from 15 states to four next year.

Aetna’s announcement is the latest signal by large insurers that they are struggling to make money in the marketplaces. Chief executive Mark Bertolini said in a statement that there are not enough healthy people to financially offset those with major health problems who require high-cost care.

“As a strong supporter of public exchanges as a means to meet the needs of the uninsured, we regret having to make this decision,” Bertolini said in a statement. “The vast majority of payers have experienced continued financial stress within their individual public exchange business due to these forces.”

Aetna’s announcement comes on the heels of an announcement by Anthem that, in a reversal of expectations, it is now projecting mid-single digit losses on the individual plans it sells on the exchanges. Humana said it would dial back its participation on the exchanges from 15 states to 11 earlier this month. UnitedHealth Group plans to remain on “three or fewer exchange markets,” its chief executive Stephen Hemsley said on an earnings call in July. Cigna has said that it is losing money on the exchanges, but the insurer is planning to expand its marketplace presence to three new states in 2017.

Katherine Hempstead, a senior adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said that these national carriers haven’t traditionally been the biggest part of the exchanges. She added that while choices and competition will diminish in certain parts of the country — she pointed to South Carolina and Arizona — she didn’t see this as a death knell for the exchanges.

“I think the market …

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