Aetna hints at further ObamaCare exits

Aetna hints at further ObamaCare exits
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One of the nation’s largest insurers is likely to exit more ObamaCare exchanges at the end of the year.

Aetna told investors on an earnings call Tuesday that it is considering exiting additional markets based on projected losses. The company announced last month that it was withdrawing from the Iowa ObamaCare market in 2018, leaving the company in just Delaware, Nebraska and Virginia. 

The company filed a preliminary application to offer ObamaCare plans in Virginia last month but has time to change its mind.


“Looking beyond 2017, we continue to evaluate our footprint with a view to significantly reduce our exposure to individual commercial products in 2018,” Aetna's chief financial officer, Shawn Guertin, told investors, adding that the company intends to communicate further participation decisions “when appropriate.”

Aetna has roughly 255,000 members in the ObamaCare market nationwide, a significant reduction from the 964,000 members it had last year. The company lost $450 million in the market in 2016 and said that losses are projected to be higher than expected this year.

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini recently said the market is in a “death spiral,” echoing predictions from Republicans and ObamaCare opponents. 

But Bertolini took heat after it was revealed that Aetna threatened to leave several profitable ObamaCare markets to pressure antitrust regulators at the Department of Justice into approving the company’s failed $37 billion bid for Humana. The merger was rejected, and Aetna followed through on its threat, exiting the exchanges.

Humana announced earlier this year that it is exiting the individual market altogether in 2018.