The Corner

Humana to Pull out of Obamacare Exchanges for 2018

Yesterday, major health-insurance company Humana announced that it would pull out of the Obamacare exchanges in 2018, the first large insurer to announce its plan to withdraw from the exchanges entirely for next year. Last year, Humana reduced its participation in the healthcare exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), participating in only eleven states rather than 15 for 2017. But now, the company cites a lack of stability in the marketplace, leading to this new decision.

“Based on its initial analysis of data associated with the company’s healthcare exchange membership following the 2017 open enrollment period, Humana is seeing further signs of an unbalanced risk pool,” the company’s statement said.

This year, Humana is covering about 150,000 people through the Obamacare exchanges. This latest announcement follows a trend that began last year, as major insurer after major insurer pulled out of the exchanges for 2017, and those that remained increased their premiums by an average of 25 percent.

Meanwhile, this morning the CEO of another major insurance company, Aetna, said in an interview at a Wall Street Journal event that the Obamacare markets are in a “death spiral.” Though he wouldn’t comment on whether or not Aetna will completely pull out of the exchanges for 2018, CEO Mark Bertolini stated emphatically that many regions will likely totally lack Obamacare insurer options for the coming year.

This latest news on the continued collapse of the Obamacare exchanges increases the pressure on the GOP and the Trump administration to push through a repeal and replace plan that limits the damage of the Affordable Care Act as much as possible.

The Trump administration this morning proposed a rule that, in part, would alter the existing ACA regulations in order to stabilize its insurance marketplaces until Congress can settle on a repeal — and possibly even a replacement — plan. Two congressional Republicans, Kentucky senator Rand Paul and South Carolina representative Mark Sanford, are expected to unveil an Obamacare replacement bill today that would lift restrictions on insurers and provide tax breaks to Americans who purchase healthcare.