Anthem, Aetna exit Obamacare exchanges

With the September deadline for insurers to decide whether they are in or out of the Obamacare exchanges fast approaching, some insurers are opting to get out now. Aetna announced it was getting out of the Obamacare business in May. Today, the company announced it was leaving the one exchange where it had considered staying because of a Medicaid contract. From the Washington Examiner:

The company said during an earnings call that it was withdrawing from the exchange in Nevada, the last state it had considered staying in. Aetna was leaving the possibility open because it was applying for a Medicaid managed care contract, and the state gives extra consideration to insurers that participate in both programs.

During its second-quarter earnings call on Thursday, however, Aetna said it was not moving forward with the recently awarded contract and would be leaving the exchange as well.

Aetna’s decision to pull back from Obacare appears to be paying off. From Reuters:

Aetna Inc reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday as member health costs were lower than anticipated and it benefited from exiting most of its Obamacare individual insurance markets this year.

That’s in stark contrast to Molina Healthcare which announced a $230 million loss yesterday. Molina, once considered one of Obamacare’s few success stories, is pulling out of two more states and still considering its participation in remaining states. In states where Molina does decide to remain on the exchange, it will be requesting a 55% premium increase.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Anthem announced it was pulling out of most areas of the California exchange. From the LA Times:

Next year, about 10% of people enrolled through the exchange will have to look for a new plan because Anthem Blue Cross will end its coverage in most of the state.

State officials said Tuesday that Anthem will continue providing coverage only in Santa Clara County and parts of Northern California and the Central Valley…

According to Covered California’s most recent enrollment snapshot from March, Anthem currently covers about 252,560 Obamacare customers, 61% of whom live in regions where the carrier will pull out of the market.

That means 39,340 people in Los Angeles County, 19,490 in Orange County and 4,340 in San Diego County will be forced to find other options during open enrollment this fall.

So far, there are no areas without coverage options in California. In fact, most people will still have three carriers to choose from. But there’s still more than a month to go before insurers have to make a final decision about participation next year. We could still see more insurers looking over the landscape and deciding they’d rather follow Aetna’s path than Molina’s path.