Anthem withdraws from Ohio Affordable Care Act Exchange leaving 20 counties without health option

Posted at 3:15 PM, Jun 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-06 15:39:14-04

One of the nation's biggest health insurers says it will not return to Ohio's public insurance exchanges next year, a decision that could open more holes in the Affordable Care Act's increasingly thin system for helping people buy coverage.

Indianapolis-based Anthem's decision could leave shoppers in 20 counties without an option for buying individual coverage on the exchange, unless another insurer steps in.

The exchanges are the only place where people can use an income-based tax credit to help cover the cost of coverage.

Affected counties:

  • Paulding
  • Van Wert
  • Mercer
  • Auglaize
  • Logan
  • Hancock
  • Crawford
  • Knox
  • Holmes
  • Coshocton
  • Harrison
  • Muskingum
  • Guernsey
  • Perry
  • Morgan
  • Noble
  • Hocking
  • Vinton
  • Jackson
  • Lawrence

Another insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, said late last month that it also was leaving the exchanges, a decision that could leave 25 counties in that market with no on-exchange options. Several insurers also have said they will return to the exchanges.

U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) reacts to Anthem's announcement to pull out of 20 Ohio counties.

“For the past few years we’ve seen premiums and deductibles skyrocket because of the ObamaCare law, as we’ve seen a declining number of viable health care choices for families and small businesses. Now, with the pullout of Anthem in Ohio, there are at least 20 counties without a single insurer offering health coverage on the ObamaCare exchange. And many other counties will have only one insurer, with no competition to get costs down for families. This is a problem not just in Ohio but across the country. Approximately one-third of the counties around the United States now only have one insurer, and more and more counties are seeing their last insurer leave just like those in Ohio.
“Without true competition and choice in the market, we will never be able to lower health care costs for families and small businesses. This is one more reason why the status quo on health care is unsustainable. The Affordable Care Act has failed to meet the promises that were made to Ohio families. We can and must do better than ObamaCare, but we should do it in a way that protects the most vulnerable in our society. I’m going to do everything I can to protect Ohio’s interests and ensure that our health care system works better for all Ohioans.”
Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) issued the following statement regarding Anthem's decision to leave Ohio's public insurance exchanges.

"I am disappointed, but not surprised, that Obamacare continues to hurt people across Ohio. The mandates in the misnamed 'Affordable Care Act' have driven up premiums in Ohio by more than 90 percent and are pushing providers out of the marketplace.

"According to the Ohio Department of Insurance, the number of providers on the exchanges has fallen from 17 to 10, and the total number of providers selling insurance products across the state has dropped from around 60 to less than 40 today. At least 18 counties are left today with no providers selling on their local exchanges.

"Obamacare's rules and overregulation are placing a heavy burden on the people of our state. That is why I sponsored a provision in state law requiring the Ohio Department of Insurance to request a waiver of these onerous federal rules. It is my hope that the Trump Administration grants that waiver once it is filed.

"More fundamentally, it is long past time to repeal the ACA and replace it with policies that respect individual liberty and achieve both quality and affordability through free market competition."

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) reacts to Anthem's decision to leave Ohio.
“The dangerous game President Trump and Washington politicians are playing just caused 70,000 paying customers in Ohio to lose their insurance and it will continue raising prices for everyone else. It’s got to stop,” Brown said. “We are talking about people’s lives – their ability to get cancer treatment, afford life-saving medicines and take their kids to the doctor. Instead of using working families as bargaining chips and driving up prices across the market, we need to work together to lower costs and make healthcare work better for everyone.”
Congressman Bob Gibbs(R-OH) issued the following statement after Anthem announced it would leave the Obamacare market.
“How many times does this have to happen before Democrats concede that Obamacare is an absolute and total failure? This is further evidence that government mandates, taxes, and penalties make it more difficult to provide Americans with reliable and affordable health insurance.  Nearly one quarter of Ohio’s counties will be left with no options on the individual market, including 3 counties from Ohio’s Seventh District.  This news is outrageous, yet sadly, not a surprise.  Obamacare, state by state, has been restricting options for millions of Americans.  Now is the time to repeal Obamacare and replace it with plan centered on market-based principles that actually drives down the cost of health care. We have to bring certainty and peace of mind back to those who have suffered needlessly.”