5 key thoughts on UnitedHealthcare's exit from ACA plans & impact for the future

Practice Management

UnitedHealthcare plans to exit most of the Affordable Care Act exchanges by 2017, including those in Arkansas, Georgia and Michigan, according to a CNN Money report.

Here are five key notes:


1. The markets in these states are small and have higher risks for the company, according to the report. As a result, UnitedHealthcare plans to leave these states.


2. UnitedHealthcare lost $475 million on the ACA exchanges last year and projected to lose $500 million this year.


3. Despite leaving the exchanges, UnitedHealthcare continues to support "more stable and sustainable" options to serve patients who rely on the open market for care.


4. On the exchange, the company served 795,000 people during the first quarter but expects only 650,000 people served by the end of the year.


5. UnitedHealthcare's exit could mean higher insurance premiums in Alabama, Arizona, Iowa, Nebraska and North Carolina.


According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, if United exited all areas, and wasn't replaced by a new company, less insurer competition cold have an impact. In 29 percent of the counties where UnitedHealthcare participates, its exit would leave only one insurer on the ACA marketplace; in another 29 percent there would be only two exchange insurers left.


UnitedHealthcare's premiums aren't low-premium plans on the marketplace with very few silver plans, so the effect would be "modest," according to the report. However, the exit could have a bigger affect in rural areas where there are typically fewer insurers already.


"The longer-term effects of a Untied withdrawal are more difficult to quantify," according to the Kaiser Family Foundation report. "Other participating plans may independently plan to raise or lower premiums and enter or exit markets."


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