By: Michael Campbell, News Editor
VIRGINIA – According to published reports, major health insurance company Aetna says it will not offer plans in Virginia as part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, in 2018.
In a statement to CNBC, company spokesman T.J. Crawford cited “financial risk and growing uncertainty in the marketplace” as the drivers for their decision to not offer on- or off-exchange individual plans in the Commonwealth during the upcoming year.
He went on to tell the business news network, “Despite significantly reducing our exchange footprint, our individual Commercial products could potentially lose more than $200 million in 2017.”
According to the company’s website, as of 2017, Aetna offered plans on the health insurance marketplace in only a few states including Virginia, with Delaware, Iowa, and Nebraska being the others. In 2016, Aetna decided to exit the health insurance marketplaces of 11 states.
The decision comes only one day after the health insurer announced their first quarter earnings, which detailed a net loss of $381 million as opposed to $737 million in net income during the same quarter last year. The company pointed to costs associated with the failed merger between Aetna and competitor Humana, a merger that Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a number of states and the U.S. Department of Justice successfully fought against.
At that time, Herring challenged the reportedly $37 billion merger between the two companies, with Herring calling the proposed merger “an illegal, anti-consumer move that would reduce competition, eliminate choices, stifle innovation, and drive up costs for Virginia consumers.”
“This merger would have meant higher costs and fewer choices for Virginia seniors, especially those with a Medicare Advantage plan in Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Hampton Roads,” said Herring. “Enforcement of anti-trust laws is one of my office’s most important responsibilities because this kind of massive merger can have a really anti-competitive effect that ends up hurting a broad section of consumers. In this case, the merger would have meant near total market control in some communities.”
As of the open enrollment period in 2017, nearly ten companies offered plans on- and off-exchange in the Commonwealth, including Aetna, CareFirst Blue Cross, Cigna, UnitedHealthCare and Optima, among others.
During the enrollment period, over 410,000 Virginians selected a marketplace plan through the exchange.
It is currently unknown how many Virginians will be affected by Aetna’s decision to exit Virginia’s health insurance marketplace.