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Anthem to exit ObamaCare markets in Nevada

Anthem BlueCross BlueShield will completely exit Nevada’s ObamaCare exchange next year, the state's insurance commissioner said Monday.

The company had previously said it would only offer plans in three urban counties in the state, leaving people in 14 counties without an insurer for 2018.  

“We … remain optimistic that there will be coverage for consumers on the exchange throughout the state,” Nevada Insurance Commissioner Barbara Richardson said in a statement.

Anthem, one the country’s largest insurers, has already pulled out of exchanges in Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) in a statement said he was "frustrated and disappointed" by Anthem's "surprise and abrupt decision to leave the healthcare exchange."

 
"This is a significant blow to the state's individual market," Sandoval said, adding that residents in three counties will still have two providers to choose from for next year.
 
Anthem cited the "volatile" individual market as the reason it made a "difficult decision" to exit the state's exchanges.
 
"[P]lanning and pricing for ACA-compliant health plans has become increasingly difficult due to a shrinking and deteriorating individual market, as well as continual changes and uncertainty ... including cost sharing reduction subsidies and the restoration of taxes on fully insured coverage," Anthem said in a statement.

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According to the most recent Kaiser Family Foundation data, a total of 17 counties nationally are expected to not have a health plan available in the exchanges next year. Kaiser said Anthem’s announcement won’t result in any new bare counties.

Separately, BlueCross BlueShield of Georgia on Monday said it will continue to offer coverage on the state exchange in 85 counties that otherwise would have no other insurers.

However, the insurer said it will still exit the other 74 counties in the state where residents have other coverage options.

The company blamed the political uncertainty surrounding ObamaCare for its decision.

We are pleased that some steps have been taken to address the long term challenges all health plans serving the individual market are facing,” it said in a statement. “However, the continued uncertainty makes it difficult for us to offer Individual health plans statewide.”

Congressional Republicans say the insurer exodus from ObamaCare markets is further evidence that the law is failing. But Democrats, and most of the insurance industry, blame the instability on the administration.

GOP efforts to repeal ObamaCare have stalled for now, but there’s continued uncertainty over whether the Trump administration will take steps to keep it going. 

One of the most immediate concerns is whether the administration will continue to fund cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies, which reimburse insurers for selling discounted insurance to low-income ObamaCare enrollees.

President Trump has repeatedly threatened to stop the payments, but it’s unclear if he will follow through on an action that could further hurt the exchanges.