(Adds comments by analyst and U.S. Health and Human Services
spokeswoman, background on Iowa market, details on Aetna, stock
By Caroline Humer
NEW YORK, April 6 Aetna Inc will exit
Iowa's Obamacare-compliant individual insurance market in 2018,
a year surrounded by uncertainty over which insurers will sell
plans and at what price as Republicans seek to dismantle the
2010 Affordable Care Act.
President Donald Trump has promised to repeal and replace
former President Barack Obama's signature piece of domestic
policy, often called Obamacare, but has been stalled by
Republicans disagreeing over possible changes.
Many insurers are waffling over where to sell insurance
plans in 2018. They worry that Republicans have not said they
will extend billions of dollars of subsidies into 2018 and that
lawmakers might make other major changes, such as scrapping the
requirement that all Americans must have health coverage or pay
Aetna, citing financial risk and the uncertain outlook, said
on Thursday it is still evaluating other remaining individual
insurance markets, which include Delaware, Nebraska and
Virginia. The company exited about a dozen markets this year. In
January it said it had more than 240,000 people in such
individual plans and expected to post losses on them this year.
Aetna shares were up 0.9 percent at $128.46 on Thursday
Evercore ISI analyst Michael Newshel said the move had
little impact on its outlook for Aetna's 2018 earnings forecast
given the small number of customers it believes the company has
Aetna is the biggest seller of Obamacare-compliant plans in
the state and according to Iowa state insurance data, had more
than 30,000 people in such plans in 2016.
Health insurers are preparing 2018 premium rate proposals to
submit to federal and state insurance regulators over the next
few months. Aetna said it had notified regulators of its plans
Alleigh Marré, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services, said by email that "insurers are fleeing
because the law is fundamentally flawed. Repealing and replacing
Obamacare remains the best option.”
Earlier this week Iowa's insurance regulator said that
Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield would not sell Obamacare
individual plans next year, affecting 22,000 people.
According to data provided by Iowa, Aetna accounted for most
of the plans sold on the federally run HealthCare.gov website in
2016. Wellmark accounted for most of the plans sold in the state
that comply with Obamacare but are not sold on HealthCare.gov.
Medica Insurance Company also sells Obamacare-compliant
plans throughout the states but is the smallest player.
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)