Iowa's Largest Insurer Says It Will Withdraw from Obamacare Exchanges

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Reed Abelson - New York Times

In the latest move by insurers worried about the viability of the markets created under the federal health care law, Iowa’s major carrier said Monday that it would stop selling individual policies in the state next year.

In a statement, the insurer, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which is based in Des Moines, blamed its decision to withdraw in 2018 on what it said was the high cost of covering people under the Affordable Care Act.

Like some other insurers, Wellmark says it has had difficulty making money because many of those enrolling in its plans have expensive medical conditions. The company said it had lost $90 million over the past three years of providing coverage on the exchanges and individually, despite aggressively raising its rates.

While Wellmark’s chief executive, John Forsyth, emphasized the importance of stabilizing the markets, he said the current uncertainty over their future was one reason the company decided to exit. “While there are many potential solutions, the timing and relative impact of those solutions is currently unclear,” he said. “This makes it difficult to establish plans for 2018.”

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