Cigna stays in Obamacare for now; Anthem reduces participation

U.S. healthcare insurer Cigna Corp said on Wednesday it will continue to offer individual coverage under Obamacare for now while rival Anthem Inc announced it was shrinking its participation, amid uncertainty over the fate of the government-subsidized program.

Wednesday was the deadline for insurers to submit to the government their 2018 rates for individual plans sold on the website set up by former President Barack Obama’s 2010 healthcare restructuring.

Cigna said it was keeping the option to stay in the seven states where it now sells plans, but that it would wait to make a final decision on its participation depending on how possible market changes shake out.

“We have worked very hard to be part of the solution here even in the face of a lot of withdrawals in the marketplace. We’ve stayed in a focused way,” Cigna Chief Executive Officer David Cordani said in an interview after the company met with investors. Cigna has about 350,000 members in individual plans.

“If you get the right collaborative relationships up and running with physician groups and hospital groups like we have in Missouri, you can generate a better result, not a stellar result, but a better result,” he said. Cordani said Cigna is losing money on the plans.

President Donald Trump and fellow Republicans in Congress have vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, arguing the law had boosted the cost of coverage and placed too much of a burden on businesses.

They have also threatened to cut off the subsidies that make the plans affordable for many consumers as soon as this year. The House of Representatives has passed a bill to gut Obamacare and the Senate is expected to unveil its draft on Thursday.

Cigna’s final decision on whether to continue participating in Obamacare next year will be made before the government’s late September deadline after more is known about anticipated new rules and regulations, Cordani said.

Meanwhile, Anthem said in a statement it would mostly stop selling individual plans in Wisconsin and Indiana, exiting the Obamacare exchanges altogether and cutting out sales through brokers in all but one county in Wisconsin and five counties in Indiana.

Anthem, the largest U.S. health insurer with Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in 14 states including New York and California, had already said it would leave the Obamacare-related market in all but one county in Ohio. Other large health insurers have also pulled out for 2018, including Aetna Inc and Humana Inc

“Planning 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 in federal operations,” Anthem spokeswoman Leslie Porras said.

Oscar Health, a small health insurer that has only been in a handful of states, said it was boosting its participation in Obamacare by adding plans in Tennessee and Ohio.

(Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Paul Simao)

Read More at Reuters

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