Anthem to Pull Out of Ohio Affordable Care Act Exchange

By Anna Wilde Mathews Features Dow Jones Newswires

Anthem Inc. said it will pull out of the Affordable Care Act health-insurance exchange in Ohio next year, a move that likely will leave 20 counties in the state with no available ACA marketplace plans.

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The move is the first withdrawal by Anthem, a huge exchange insurer that has warned repeatedly that it was weighing its future in the ACA marketplaces, which sell health insurance to individuals. The decision will likely create alarm in the other 13 states where Anthem offers individual health-insurance plans. So far, the insurer has filed 2018 ACA plans with regulators in other states, including Virginia, Maine and Connecticut, but it could still pull back.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Anthem is currently the only ACA exchange insurer in 20 Ohio counties. The move will mark the second region at risk of being bare of ACA marketplace insurers, after Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City announced it will leave a large area of western Missouri next year.

In announcing the decision, Anthem said that setting prices and making decisions about ACA plans has become "increasingly difficult due to the shrinking individual market as well as continual changes in federal operations, rules and guidance." The insurer said the market remains "volatile," and it cited the uncertainty surrounding key issues including federal payments that help reduce costs for low-income ACA enrollees.

The insurer said an "increasing lack of overall predictability simply does not provide a sustainable path forward to provide affordable plan choices for consumers."

Anthem is only the latest insurer to pull back from the exchanges for next year. Humana Inc. in February announced it would exit all the health-law marketplaces next year. Aetna Inc. has also said it is pulling out of the exchanges where it currently offers plans.

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Anthem said it would continue to offer individual health-insurance plans in one Ohio county, Pike, but they will not be available through the ACA marketplace.

Write to Anna Wilde Mathews at anna.mathews@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 06, 2017 13:04 ET (17:04 GMT)