Anthem weighing ObamaCare exit as uncertainty grows

trump swedish ap fbn

The CEO of the nation’s second largest health insurer, Anthem (NYSE:ANTM), said Wednesday the company was weighing whether to continue participating in the ObamaCare marketplace in 2018, as the deadline for insurers to register plans in most states approaches in less than a month.

During a speech at the UBS Global Healthcare Conference in New York, Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish cited the company’s high exposure on the ObamaCare marketplace as a driving force of uncertainty, causing Anthem to question the future of its Affordable Care Act market presence.

“We’re in deep dialogue with all of the state regulators  ... and we're trying to get a sense of what our engagement [on the exchanges] might look like; staying in, part or in whole, or even extricating ourselves, as I said ‘surgically extracting’ ourselves … all of those questions are still a work in process by the states,” Swedish said.

Swedish says he has spent a lot of time in Washington, D.C. working with Congress and the administration on fostering more stability in the marketplace, though he added there is a lot of “volatility” regarding public policy right now.

“We certainly would prefer not to extract ourselves if we can get the math to work,” he said, before adding the company will remove itself from the market if necessary.

Anthem, one of the largest remaining insurers left on the exchanges, currently serves more than 1.1 million ObamaCare consumers across 14 states under its BlueCross BlueShield plans. Aetna (NYSE:AET) and Humana (NYSE:HUM) both announced already this year that they will not be offering coverage for customers on the marketplace in 2018, citing instability in the marketplace and the damaging costs of exchange participation.

Swedish threatened to pull out of the exchanges altogether earlier this year if the government failed to continue subsidizing cost-sharing reductions, or reimbursements from the government to insurers for providing discounted care to low-income individuals. The Trump administration put off a decision on the legality of ObamaCare’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies on Monday, though it will continue to fund them until a final decision is made.

The Congressional Budget Office is expected to release a score for the revamped GOP health care bill Wednesday afternoon, analyzing its potential impact on the federal deficit, health care coverage and consumer costs. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month narrowly and will be sent to the Senate floor following the CBO analysis, according to House Speaker Paul Ryan.