Anthem Inc. Pulls Out Of ACA Healthcare Exchanges In Two States, Blames Trump Administration

No one likes Mondays, but this one had a nasty surprise for Nevada and Georgia residents who signed up with Anthem Inc. (ANTX) through the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s healthcare exchanges.

On August. 7, the health insurance carrier announced their plans to leave Nevada’s Obamacare exchange and slash their presence in Georgia by half in 2018, according to CNN Money. To make matters worse, other health insurers are likely to either pare down or raise premiums as well.

Anthem Inc. took care to add this only applies to those who get their insurance on the ACA healthcare exchanges. Those who get their coverage through Medicare or through an employer may continue with the same plans they have now.

On June 13, The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a report that projects as many as 1,200 U.S. counties — almost 40 percent — may have only one health insurance provider in 2018. Even more alarming, at least 35,000 people who now get their health coverage through the Exchange are living in counties that may not have any insurers available at all.

Here’s the CMMS map with a county-by-county analysis for 2018.

Map of U.S. counties by number of health insurance providers on the Affordable Care Act Exchange.
Image: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

CNN Money explains the reason Anthem Inc. chose this week to anounce they’re bailing out is that health insurance carriers need to submit their requests for charging higher premiums by Aug. 16 and are required to sign their contracts by Sept. 27.

They add the insurance company has gotten “increasingly jittery” because of the “uncertainty” surrounding the Affordable Care Act in Washington, D.C. They feel especially nervous about the White House’s threats to hold back crucial subsidies both consumers and the health insurance companies rely on.

Specifically, Anthem Inc.’s press release states the White House has made planning and pricing “increasingly difficult.”

“Today, planning and pricing for ACA-compliant health plans has become increasingly difficult due to a shrinking and deteriorating individual market, as well as continual changes and uncertainty in federal operations, rules and guidance, including cost sharing reduction subsidies and the restoration of taxes on fully insured coverage.”

If the U.S. Senate’s repeal of the Affordable Healthcare Act failed, how can the president undermine it?

But wait, why is this happening? Why are companies like Anthem Inc. bailing out? Didn’t Senate Republicans just fail to repeal the Affordable Care Act? Yes, they did and it’s a good thing as a report from CNN Money from July said 32 million people would lose their health insurance if it passed.

But, as CNN Money explains in yet another piece, President Donald Trump has three ways he can undermine Obamacare under the ACA without support from the House or the Senate.

  1. Halt cost-sharing subsidies from the U.S. government so fewer people can afford insurance. Over 6 million Americans get a boost from these subsidies.
  2. Stop enforcing the individual mandate, so younger and healthier people stop signing up, leaving health insurers with a higher percentage of older, sicker patients.
  3. Quit running ads during open enrollment so fewer people know when and how to sign up.

The Hill also points out that having President Donald Trump urging lawmakers to “let Obamacare implode” certainly doesn’t help matters. Already, this lack of support has had a chilling effect on the exchanges.

Anthem Inc. offered health insurance plans in 14 states for 2017, but they’ve also announced they’re leaving Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, and vast swathes of California. So much for Donald Trump’s promises that — as MSNBC reminds us — “we’re going to have insurance for everybody,” that “everybody’s going to be taken care of,” that we’d have “lower premiums” with “much lower deductibles,” and that he’d never cut Medicaid.

Over 6 million people bought health insurance via the Obamacare exchanges alone, according to an earlier report from CNN Money. When you add in Americans who don’t get their coverage through the exchanges but through other ACA provisions — such as requirements and tax breaks for small companies to provide health insurance and parents keeping adult children on their plans until age 26 — the number balloons to over 30 million.

A Quinnipiac University poll what POLITICO reports as a “staggering opposition of registered voters” to the GOP’s attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare. A stunning 80 percent of those polled said they disapprove, and this includes 60 percent of Republicans.

Here’s CNN’s video explaining how the Trump administration can do some serious damage to the ACA and your health coverage, or that of someone you likely know.

[Featured Image by Mayte Torris/Getty Images]