Roughly 1.4 million Americans will have to change health insurance companies in 2017. A wider 14 million people may face some changes to their plans as health care providers leave Affordable Care Act marketplaces.
“It’s part of the normal business cycle for insurers to discontinue, change and replace plans from year to year,” Benjamin Wakana, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, told Bloomberg. “Such changes don’t prevent people from obtaining coverage. People can shop for new coverage through a transparent market.”
People in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Tennessee, North Carolina and Florida would be hit the hardest by the shifting coverage.
Bloomberg estimates more than 400,000 people may lose their current plan in Florida.
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In North Carolina, insurers Aetna and UnitedHealth will pull their policies from the state’s marketplace, leaving BlueCross BlueShield as the only option in 95 of 100 counties.
“Without any significant statutory and regulatory changes on the federal and state levels, we may face the crisis again,” Wayne Goodwin, a Democrat and Insurance Commissioner for North Carolina, said. “There needs to be a wholesale re-evaluation by leaders in Washington.”
“In some states, insurers are abandoning the individual market altogether because they must insure even high-risk customers and cannot charge them enormous premiums,” Henry Aaron, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and vice chair of the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority, wrote in The Washington Post. “Fortunately, there is a good fix for much of this problem. From the day it opened its doors, the D.C. Health Exchange has required that all individual insurance policies be purchased through the D.C. exchange.”
“Creating one unified market would not solve every problem that insurers now confront,” Aaron later added. “They would still have to learn how to manage risk in a world where they cannot charge absurdly high premiums or deny insurance to anyone. But establishing one big marketplace in each and every Obamacare exchange is low-hanging fruit, waiting to be plucked.”