Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Foundation says 44 counties, so far, are at risk of having no Obamacare insurers in 2018

One reason many Republicans in Congress give for repealing and replacing "Obamacare" is that the health-insurance system created by the 2010 law is collapsing as companies withdraw from the marketplaces for federally subsidized insurance, threatening to leave many Americans unable to buy such policies. "The status quo is simply unsustainable," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said today.

That threat may be overstated, but more complete information is coming, according to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation. At the precipice of the June 21 deadline for insurers to submit rates for the marketplace, the foundation released a map that will continue to track counties at risk of having no health insurers that offer plans in the 2018 marketplace.

To date, only 44 counties are at risk of having no marketplace insurers, representing 31,268 estimated enrollees, according to a foundation news release. Those counties are a mix of metropolitan and rural counties throughout Ohio (from which insurer Anthem Inc. recently withdrew) and western Missouri, plus a rural county in southern Washington.
"Compiled from a foundation analysis of insurer filings and news reports, the map charts the counties at risk of having no insurers based on current public announcements, along with the name of the 2017 participating insurer and the number of enrollees in 2017," the release says. "The map also includes a tally of the number and share of counties at risk, and the number and share of enrollees that could be affected. . . . Foundation experts will continue updating the map until insurer participation in 2018 is finalized in the fall of 2017."

If a county has no marketplace insurer, consumers would not be able to purchase plans subsidized by federal tax credits and cost-sharing reductions. "Tax credits make coverage more affordable throughout the year by lowering consumers’ monthly premium costs; cost-sharing reductions help lower out-of-pocket costs," Kaiser explains. "In 2017, 8.7 million people (84 percent of all marketplace enrollees) received tax credits to cover a share of their premium and 5.9 million people (57 percent of all marketplace enrollees) received cost-sharing reductions."

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