Health care options for thousands of Nevadans narrowed significantly Monday after health insurer Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield — one of the largest health insurance companies in the U.S. — announced it would withdraw from Nevada’s Obamacare state exchange in 2018.
Fourteen counties in Nevada are at risk of not having an insurance provider on the state’s individuals insurance exchange in 2018.
Anthem had initially said it would still provide coverage to three rural counties, but on Monday the company withdrew from the exchange entirely. The insurer will now only offer “off-exchange catastrophic medical plans” available to low-income consumers or individuals under the age of 30.
“It’s extremely disappointing to lose a player from the state exchanges, especially in this case for the rural areas of Nevada,” Dr. Christopher Cochran, chair in the department of Health Care Administration and Policy at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas told VICE News. “While the makeup of Nevada’s insured through the state exchanges is still strong in the urban areas which comprises more than 90% of the Nevada population, this is another setback for people in Nevada’s sparsely populated rural areas.”
Heather Korbulic the executive director of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange told VICE News that Anthem’s decision meant “less choice” and “less competition” for both Nevada’s exchange consumers and the individual market, respectively. Korbulic also said that instability at the government level surrounding the funding of Cost Sharing Reductions (CSRs) and enforcement of the individual mandate, created market instability.
“Nevada carriers need assurances around the payment of CSRs, and they need enforcement of the individual mandate in order to understand the risk-mix so they can price plans accordingly,” said Korbulic. “Although the Senate was not successful with a repeal bill, the Trump administration still has the ability to decide not to fund CSRs or enforce the mandate – they have offered no assurances and thus we continue to see volatility in the NV market.”
Anthem blamed its decision on “a shrinking and deteriorating individual market,” as well as “continual changes and uncertainty in federal operations, rules and guidance, including cost sharing reduction subsidies and the restoration of taxes on fully insured coverage.” The insurer has already dropped out of exchanges in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio.
In a statement following the announcement Monday, Nevada’s governor Brian Sandoval called the decision a “significant blow to the state’s individual marketplace,” and said he was “frustrated and disappointed” with Anthem’s “surprise and abrupt decision to leave the healthcare exchange especially during uncertain times.”
As many as 47 counties in the U.S. are projected to have no Obamacare insurance options in 2018, according to an analysis by CNBC.