Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City drops Obamacare coverage

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City announced Wednesday that it will not offer any Obamacare plans in Kansas next year. From WDAF in Kansas City:

“Since 2014, we’ve expended significant resources to offer individual ACA plans to increase access to quality healthcare coverage for the Kansas City community,” said Danette Wilson, President and CEO of Blue KC. “Like many other health insurers across the country, we have been faced with challenges in this market. Through 2016, we have lost more than $100 million. This is unsustainable for our company. We have a responsibility to our members and the greater community to remain stable and secure, and the uncertain direction of this market is a barrier to our continued participation.”

Blue KC has more than 1 million members, and this will affect approximately 67,000.

Blue KC will be dropping both their on exchange and off exchange Obamacare plans, but grandfathered plans which were purchased before October 2013 will still be offered to customers who have them.

Blue KC is the second insurer this week to drop out of the exchanges. BridgeSpan announced Monday that it will be dropping out of the Idaho exchange market, though it will continue to offer off-exchange plans. BridgeSpan cited similar reasons, i.e. cost overruns and uncertainty about the future of the market.

Meanwhile, the largest insurer still offering Obamacare plans, Anthem, said it is still weighing whether to drop out next year. From Reuters:

CEO Joseph Swedish, speaking at the UBS Global Healthcare Conference, said the No. 2 health insurer is talking to regulators in each of the 14 states where it sells BlueCross BlueShield plans about total or partial participation or “surgically extracting” itself from the market…

“We would prefer not to extract ourselves if we can get the math to work,” Swedish said.

CEO Swedish also said today that he expects repeal of Obamacare won’t happen once the CBO announces its numbers on the House bill. “I think we are going to end up with a repair more than a repeal and replace once the Senate gets their arms around it,” he said. I suspect Anthem will stay in most if not all of these markets, but they will extract some sizeable premium hikes to make the risk worth their while.