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Aetna Will Exit Iowa ACA Health Insurance Exchange in 2018

Aetna will not offer coverage options on Iowa’s health insurance exchange in 2018, the company said.

Aetna will not offer coverage options on Iowa health insurance exchange

Source: Thinkstock

By Thomas Beaton

- Aetna has announced that it will stop participating in the Iowa health insurance exchange in 2018, citing financial losses and market instability as primary reasons to exit.  

"Earlier today we informed the appropriate federal and state regulators that Aetna will not participate in the Iowa individual public exchange for 2018 as a result of financial risk and an uncertain outlook for the marketplace," Aetna spokesperson T.J. Crawford told CNBC.

"We are still evaluating Aetna's 2018 individual product presence in our remaining states," Crawford said.

The announcement is a continuation of Aetna’s broader decision to pull back from the public marketplace.  In 2016, the payer announced that it would significantly reduce its presence across a number of states.  Iowa was one of the few exceptions at the time.

Aetna is the second large payer to exit the Iowa market this week, following in the footsteps of Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.  Wellmark said that previous losses of $90 million over the past three years, as well as projected financial losses of $45 million, contributed to its decision.

“No one really benefits from rising costs,” said Wellmark Chairman and CEO John Forsyth.. While there are many potential solutions, the timing and relative impact of those solutions is currently unclear. This makes it difficult to establish plans for 2018.”

Aetna-based marketplace plans covered nearly 30,000 Iowans before the decision to leave the marketplace.

Wellmark’s exit from the ACA exchange affects 21,400 Iowans, who will still have coverage until December 31, 2017.

Iowa residents will now have to choose from just two payers that will continue to offer coverage through the ACA health insurance exchange.

Recent industry research found that many ACA healthcare consumers were dissatisfied with their plans, citing decreases in quality. A lack of large private payers to support the exchanges played a factor in the 58 percent decrease in ACA plan quality. 


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