Some Insurers Cautiously Dip Toes Into Obamacare Waters for 2018

And they can pull them right back out again, changing their minds in the coming months and not participate in the ACA exchanges, according to the Wall Street Journal. It’s a struggle for health insurance officials, making this decision about should they stay or should they go. Since the GOP abandoned what was supposed to be Obamacare’s replacement, the American Health Care Act, because of lack of support in the House, plans have no idea of what awaits them in terms of regulations and requirements.

“In particular, the insurers want guarantees that they will continue to receive federal payments that help cover the cost of care for lower-income ACA exchange enrollees,” the WSJ reports. “Without these payments, industry officials have said the exchanges may see significant rate increases and pullbacks.”

Anthem filed to provide plans on the ACA exchanges in Virginia and Kentucky in 2018. Cigna and Aetna have also made preliminary filings in Virginia. But UnitedHealthcare’s not coming back and is doing quite well without participating, as reported yesterday.

“The filings represent early moves toward offering plans on those states’ exchanges, but the insurers could reverse course in coming weeks or months, and their strategy may be different in other states,” the WSJ reports. “The early disclosures also don’t include details such as rates and the regions where they intend to participate.”

The bellwether appears to be Anthem or, actually, any of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurers whose continued participation in the ACA prompted Standard & Poor’s to recently suggest that reports of Obamacare’s death have been greatly exaggerated. (Deep bow to Mark Twain.)

Anthem, too, is looking for stability and says it will pull back participation if the system doesn’t stabilize. Aetna is also jittery, with a spokesperson telling the WSJ that “no final decisions have been made due to continued uncertainty and financial risk.”

Source: Wall Street Journal