Blue Cross of Nebraska dropping out of ObamaCare market

Blue Cross of Nebraska dropping out of ObamaCare market
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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska announced Friday that is pulling out of the ObamaCare marketplace in the state, becoming the latest insurer to cite financial losses when reducing participation in the healthcare law. 

The move is especially significant given that it is a Blue Cross plan, which form the backbone of the ObamaCare marketplaces. In a few states, the Blue Cross plan will be the only one available on the marketplace next year. 

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Nebraska, though, will still have two insurers, Aetna and Medica, on its marketplace next year. 

Like other insurers that have announced pullbacks, Blue Cross of Nebraska cited heavy financial losses. 

“Serious issues with the health care law have made the public Marketplace unstable, which is driving increased costs and decreased competition and consumer choice,” Blue Cross of Nebraska said in a statement. 

“In fact, since we began selling our individual plans on the [Affordable Care Act's] public Marketplace, we have lost approximately $140 million,” the insurer continued. “We have a responsibility to all our members to remain stable and secure, and that responsibility will be at risk if we continue to sustain losses due to our participation in the ACA Marketplace.”

The company will continue to offer some individual market plans outside of the health law’s marketplaces, but importantly, enrollees are not eligible for the law’s financial assistance on plans sold outside of the marketplace. 

The insurer said in its statement that all of the issues with ObamaCare are “fixable.”

It pointed to some common concerns of insurers across the country. It said the rules around extra sign-up periods need to be enforced so that people cannot wait until they get sick to sign up, driving up costs for insurers. It also said more young and healthy people need to enroll. 

The Obama administration has already started taking some steps aimed at these concerns. 

The insurer also cited a shortfall in "risk corridor" funds, which were meant to cushion insurers from heavy losses but have been limited by Congress, amid Republican accusations that the program is a "bailout."

“All Nebraskans will have access to coverage next year, and thanks to financial assistance, most people will be able to select a plan for less than $75 per month,” Juliet Johnson, a spokeswoman for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a statement. “We look forward to Nebraskans coming to shop for plans that include free preventive care and no lifetime limits when Open Enrollment begins on November 1.”

In a question and answer post on its page, Blue Cross of Nebraska asked if the ObamaCare marketplace is “going to collapse.”

“We can’t speculate on that, but the increasing instability of the ACA is a serious and ongoing concern,” the company said. “In all too many cases, the ACA is actually causing decreased choice and increased costs.  Changes in the health care law are needed to stabilize the ACA, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield is working with regulators at all levels to advocate for this.”