Anthem drops out of state Marketplace

Anthem will not participate in the state Marketplace in 2018, company officials said late Friday afternoon.

The move, combined with other insurers dropping out of the health insurance exchange set up under the Affordable Care Act, could leave some Virginia counties without insurance coverage, but none in Hampton Roads.

Anthem updated its insurance filing for 2018 this month after what they called “significant dialogue with federal leaders and regulators.”

“While we are pleased that some steps have been taken to address the long term challenges all health plans serving the Individual market are facing, the Individual market remains volatile,” the company said in a news release.

“Anthem will not participate on the Individual Exchange in Virginia for 2018. Additionally, Anthem will reduce its 2018 Individual plan offering and will only offer off-exchange plans in Washington and Scott counties, and in the City of Bristol.” Earlier this year, the company stopped providing health insurance plans in Ohio’s ACA exchange.

The move will not effect those covered by Medicaid or Medicare, employer-based plans or those enrolled in “granfathered” plans purchased before March 2010, company officials said.

U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine said in a joint statement, “President (Donald) Trump has been playing politics with health care for months now, and unfortunately, Virginians will be the ones paying the price.”

“As a result of the uncertainty, mixed signals and deliberate sabotage from the Trump administration, some insurers will raise premiums and scale back their health insurance offerings in the individual market. It is unfortunate that others, such as Anthem, are choosing to leave the marketplace altogether,” the statement states.

Health insurance companies have pointed to uncertainty about rules, regulations and payments from the federal government as a reasons for pulling out of exchanges nationwide set up under former President Barack Obama’s landmark legislation.

The national health care debate remains unresolved after Congressional Republicans failed another attempt to repeal ACA last month.

Anthem was one of eight insurers participating in tiered coverage for people looking for health insurance in the marketplace, according to July ACA filings from insurance companies with the Virginia Insurance Commission.

Insurers left providing marketplace plans include Optima Health, which is owned by Sentara Healthcare, a large provider of health services in Hampton Roads, Cigna, Piedmont Community Healthcare HMO and CareFirst BlueChoice Inc.

The individual market is a small piece of the state’s insurance pie — many Virginians are covered by employer-sponsored health insurance plans.

During open enrollment, more than 360,000 Virginians signed up for health insurance under the ACA. Roughly 1 million people are covered by Medicaid, and a similar amount of people 65 and older are covered by Medicare and its programs in Virginia.

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