Optima's exit may leave many Virginia counties with no ObamaCare insurer

Optima's exit may leave many Virginia counties with no ObamaCare insurer
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More than sixty thousand ObamaCare enrollees in Virginia could be without an insurer next year after Optima Health announced it was leaving many of the state's markets, according to officials in the state.

Optima said it plans to exit many of the counties that it served in 2017, after previously planning to cover nearly the entire state next year. The move would leave 63 of Virginia's 95 counties without an insurance option for 2018.

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According to state officials, the void will be mostly in rural localities, where access to doctors and hospitals is limited.

Optima also said it would be raising premiums by 81 percent for any customer who doesn’t qualify for subsidies from the federal government. However, this would only affect about 30 percent of its customers. The rest would only see an increase of 1.5 percent, or about $4 a month.

Optima said some of the premium increase was due to uncertainty surrounding federal funding for ObamaCare’s cost-sharing reduction payments. It also said some of the increase was due to other national carriers leaving the state.

Anthem, Aetna and UnitedHealth have already announced plans to exit Virginia’s ObamaCare markets entirely next year.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) on Wednesday blamed the Trump administration for Optima’s decision.

“This and other recent departures by insurers are avoidable if the President and Congress would simply follow the law and implement the Affordable Care Act as it is written,” McAuliffe said in a statement.

“Optima’s announcement today is the latest evidence that the Trump Administration’s deliberate efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act are hurting families and damaging economies across this nation,” he said.

The Optima announcement also follows a decision by Anthem to exit 61 counties in Kentucky. However, Anthem said it was remaining in the counties that otherwise would not have marketplace options.