UnitedHealth to exit ObamaCare exchanges in two states

UnitedHealth to exit ObamaCare exchanges in two states

The nation’s largest insurer is ending its ObamaCare plans in two states several months after the company predicted nearly $1 billion in losses from participating in the marketplaces.

UnitedHealth Group plans to exit the exchanges in Georgia and Arkansas, both states confirmed to The Hill on Friday. 

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The company's decision to pull out of the two state marketplaces comes after the company first threatened to drop out of unprofitable markets last November. 

While UnitedHealth Group already had a limited scope in ObamaCare plans, its decision to make good on earlier threats is a sign of trouble for marketplaces around the country. 

The company had only entered the market in Arkansas last November, and did not provide a reason for leaving in 2017.

"I don't know what their mindset is," said Ryan James, a spokesman for the Arkansas Insurance Department, who confirmed the company's exit.

The company's decision was reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Bloomberg News. 

Multiple spokespeople for UnitedHealth did not immediately respond for comment.

The company has been putting out warning signs about its fate in the ObamaCare exchanges for months.

CEO Stephen Hemsley said in November that the company had lowered its revenue forecasts for the ObamaCare plans and was already pulling back on marketing for next year.

He hinted the company could withdraw from the ObamaCare marketplace completely within two years, a move that sent shockwaves across the healthcare and insurance sectors.

UnitedHealth is the largest carrier of medical plans, though it has historically enrolled fewer customers through ObamaCare plans — about 600,000 as of last fall.

The company also had a more conservative entry into the marketplaces, beginning to sell ObamaCare plans in 2014 instead of 2013.

UnitedHealth makes up about 6 percent of the total ObamaCare marketplace, according to federal health data.

Officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Friday said the marketplace maintains a "robust number of plan choices,” while acknowledging that any new market comes with "expect changes and adjustments." 

Updated at 5:24 p.m.