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June 15, 2017

47 counties could have no exchange insurers for 2018, CMS says

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An estimated 47 counties in Ohio, Missouri, and Washington could have no insurers selling Affordable Care Act exchange plans for the 2018 coverage year, according to a CMS analysis released Tuesday.

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The analysis is based on a review of public insurer announcements made as of June 9 regarding the companies' exchange participation for 2018.


According to the analysis, about 35,000 current exchange enrollees live in the 47 counties that could have zero exchange plan options for the 2018 coverage year. CMS said it expects "the number of consumers with no coverage choices [to] rise."

CMS in the analysis also predicted that as many as 1,200 counties throughout the country could have just one insurer selling 2018 exchange plans. According to CMS, about 2.4 million current exchange enrollees live in those counties.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma called the analysis "another failing report card for the exchanges." She added that CMS is "working with state departments of insurance and issuers to find ways to provide relief and help restore access to health care plans."

According to Healthcare Finance News, insurers have until June 21 to submit plans to sell insurance through the federal exchange. CMS said it will update the analysis as more insurers announce whether they plan to sell 2018 exchange plans.

Insurer participation could change

According to Vox, the figures included in the analysis are likely to change as insurers are still weighing whether they will participate in the exchanges.

For instance, Centene on Tuesday announced that it plans to begin selling exchange plans in Missouri for the 2018 coverage year, which could mean that some of the counties that CMS said could have no insurer for 2018 now would have at least one. According to The Hill, however, it is not yet clear whether Centene will sell plans in the specific Missouri counties CMS said could have no exchange insurer for 2018 (Haefner, Becker's Hospital Review, 6/13; Morse, Healthcare Finance News, 6/13; CMS release, 6/13; Kliff, Vox, 6/13; Reuters, 6/13; Hellmann, The Hill, 6/13; Nather/Baker, "Vitals," Axios, 6/14; Bowden, The Hill, 6/13; Luhby, CNN Money, 6/13).

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