North Carolinians buying health care from the state's Affordable Care Act marketplace will have fewer choices next year after two providers, Aetna and United Healthcare, opt out of the exchanges.
The two companies, which issued plans in the state’s Affordable Care Act exchanges during the last enrollment period, will leave North Carolina’s marketplace in 2017. United Healthcare announced its decision in April while Aetna’s decision came during August.
These decisions mean that most of the 613,487 North Carolina residents who buy health insurance from the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange will have to turn to Blue Cross Blue Shield when open enrollment begins in November.
Insurers have been losing money from the Affordable Care Act marketplaces in North Carolina as well as in other states, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said in a statement.
He said Aetna’s losses in Affordable Care Act exchanges nationwide, over $430 million since 2014, led to the decision for Aetna to leave North Carolina and 10 other states in 2017.
Insurance companies are losing money in the exchanges because of the high level of risk in the applicant pool, said Jonathan Oberlander, the chairperson of the Social Medicine department at the UNC School of Medicine.
“It is by definition a new market,” he said. “The risk pools on those marketplaces are more expensive than they anticipated.”