Major health insurer’s decision to pull out of exchanges could be final nail in Obamacare’s coffin

Major health insurer’s decision to pull out of exchanges could be final nail in Obamacare’s coffin
Anthem Blue Cross headquarters in Woodland Hills, California. (David McNew/Getty Images)

On Friday, The Blaze reported analysts predict major health insurer Anthem will pull out of Obamacare individual health insurance exchanges in 2018. A closer examination of Anthem’s potential decision reveals if the health insurer does pull out, it will leave hundreds of thousands of Americans in numerous regions without any Obamacare health insurance options to choose from, which could serve as the final nail in Obamacare’s coffin.

David Windley and David Styblo, both analysts at Jefferies, announced in a research note released Thursday Anthem “is leaning toward exiting a high percentage of the 144 rating regions in which it currently participates,” according to a report by Bloomberg.

CNBC reported Anthem, one of the largest insurance companies in the country, insures more than 800,000 individual plans in 14 states.

An analysis published by Axios.com earlier in March, produced with the help of a health care research team at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found more than 200,000 people would be left without insurance and without any health insurance options on the Obamacare exchange if Anthem pulls out of the Obamacare marketplaces. More than 500,000 would be left with only one health insurance option remaining.

One of those individuals is Derrick Johnson, a writer for The Resurgent. In a story he published on Friday, Johnson wrote about the effects Obamacare has had on health care options where he lives and how Anthem’s decision will make things even worse.

“I have been able to watch this spiral first hand,” Johnson wrote, referring to Obamacare’s “death spiral.” “I’m no longer in the individual insurance market, but I was the year before Obamacare was implemented. Shopping online for plans before Obamacare, there were a dozen providers, and hundreds of plans available. I was able to insure my family of 4 for $600/ month, with a $5000 deductible. Within a year of Obamacare’s implementation, my plan was cancelled, replaced by a $1000/month plan, with a $12,000 family deductible. Today, there are only 2 providers available for the individual market in my area of Colorado. One of them is Anthem, and they are leaving.”

The Jefferies report was announced after Windley and Styblo met with management at Anthem. According to the analysts, “regulatory advocacy needs to progress significantly in the next ‘month or so,’” if there is any hope of keeping Anthem in the Obamacare exchanges, reported CNBC.

The Anthem report comes as Republicans in the House of Representatives have resumed discussions about how to move forward with the American Health Care Act, the House GOP’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. The AHCA was scheduled for a vote on March 24, but Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) pulled the bill after it became clear many conservatives would not vote in favor of the legislation.

On Thursday, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, said the AHCA is “much closer” to passing now than it was a week ago.

“We’ve moved it much closer,” Meadows told the Washington Examiner. “All they have to do is kick a little chip shot through the goal posts.”

According the Washington Examiner’s report, Meadows believes the bill could pass the House if Ryan is able to amend the AHCA so that it eliminates the Obamacare “Essential Health Benefits” mandates and “Community Rating” controls. Community rating requirements force insurers to charge the same amount to all people in a region. The ACA has a modified community rating system that lets insurers charge different rates to people based only on age and whether the person applying for coverage is a smoker.

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