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Aetna to leave 11 of 15 state ACA exchanges

Aetna, the nation's third-largest insurer, announced plans late Monday to leave almost 70 percent of the counties nationwide where it now sells Affordable Care Act policies, saying it's been swamped with higher than expected costs. It now only sells in Maricopa County but had planned to expand to Pinal County.

Aetna's announcement comes on the heels of an announcement by Anthem that, in a reversal of expectations, it's was now projecting mid-single digit losses on the individual plans it sells on the exchanges. Its plans, however, are derailed by Department of Justice when it filed a lawsuit.

Bertolini told investor analysts when Aetna released its second-quarter financial results August 2 that the insurer would withdraw expansion plans for Affordable Care Act exchanges in 2017 and that it expected a loss of more than $300 million in Affordable Care Act business this year. Today the health insurance giant announced it would cease selling individual Obamacare policies next year in 11 of 15 states, including North Carolina and Ohio. In addition to Nebraska, the company plans to keep offering the policies in Iowa, Delaware and Virginia.

One of the nation's largest insurance companies is pulling out of the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) exchanges in most states, including Florida.

The decision will not affect 2016 plans.

The federal health care website shows other companies, including Freedom Life Insurance and National Foundation Life Insurance, submitted such proposals, but Farmer's agency must vet them first. Officials from the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement they "remain confident that all Arizona residents will have access to coverage next year".

But that is not the case here.

More than a dozen nonprofit insurance co-ops have shut down in the past couple years.

Premiums next year are expected to rise between 5 percent for Horizon's Omnia plan, which had 189,000 customers this year, and 26 percent for AmeriHealth's HMO plan, which had 14,000 members. The government is hoping that when uninsured consumers face the full penalty, they will change their minds and sign up.

While not a killing blow to Obamacare, the loss of Aetna is a major setback for the administration, which has seen other providers drop out amid similar concerns.

Aetna already has a new plan. All five of the major insurers in the United States say they have lost money on their ACA-related businesses.

Cindy Zeldin of Georgians for a Healthy Future, a consumer advocacy group, said Tuesday that Aetna's departure "will be disruptive for consumers and will particularly impact people outside metro Atlanta, where competition is less robust". The company complained that participation in the exchanges have cost it $200k in pretax losses for the second quarter. Aetna covered nearly 850,000 people through its exchange plans as of June 30, and most of those people will have to find new plans in the next open enrollment, and these customers the latest group to find out first hand that "if you like your plan you can keep it" was not actually a guarantee.

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