In­surer to stop sell­ing in­di­vid­ual health plans in much of Vir­ginia.

An­them cites un­cer­tainty in D.C.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY BEN FIN­LEY

NOR­FOLK, VA. | A third in­sur­ance com­pany said Fri­day that it will stop of­fer­ing in­di­vid­ual health in­sur­ance plans un­der the Af­ford­able Care Act next year in Vir­ginia, cit­ing in part the un­cer­tainty in Wash­ing­ton as law­mak­ers de­bate the fu­ture of the health care law.

An­them Blue Cross Blue Shield said in a state­ment that the de­ci­sion was based on the shrink­ing in­di­vid­ual mar­ket and “con­tin­ual changes and un­cer­tainty” in the op­er­a­tion, rules and guid­ance of the law.

In his calls to re­peal the law, Pres­i­dent Trump has threat­ened to cut fund­ing to in­sur­ance com­pa­nies that helps them sub­si­dize plans for low-in­come peo­ple.

The news prompted Democrats on Fri­day to blame Mr. Trump for “de­lib­er­ate sab­o­tage” of the ACA, while Repub­li­cans cited it as more proof that the law should be “re­pealed and re­placed.”

An­them’s de­par­ture — along with Aetna and Unit­edHealth­care — means only one in­surer will of­fer in­di­vid­ual plans in more than half of Vir­ginia’s coun­ties and in­de­pen­dent cities next year, ac­cord­ing to Katha Tre­anor, a spokes­woman for Vir­ginia’s Bureau of In­sur­ance.

The de­par­ture of the in­sur­ers means that many could find their doc­tors are out of net­work, with only one in­sur­ance com­pany to turn to for an in­di­vid­ual plan.

At to­tal of 360,000 Vir­gini­ans bought health in­sur­ance this year through in­di­vid­ual plans, Ms. Tre­anor said. The ma­jor­ity were through An­them.

About 160,000 peo­ple pur­chased in­di­vid­ual plans un­der the Af­ford­able Care Act. An­other 46,000 bought plans out­side of the fed­eral mar­ket­place.

An­them said it will only sell in­di­vid­ual plans that are un­af­fil­i­ated with the ACA in two coun­ties and one city in South­west Vir­ginia.

Jill A. Hanken, an at­tor­ney with the Vir­ginia Poverty Law Cen­ter, stressed that five in­sur­ance com­pa­nies will still of­fer in­di­vid­ual plans and that Vir­gini­ans will still have at least one op­tion for buy­ing cov­er­age un­der the ACA. But Ms. Hanken said: “I hope the re­main­ing com­pa­nies will stay in place and give Congress a chance to sta­bi­lize the mar­ket.”

Hanken said about 700,000 peo­ple lack health in­sur­ance in the state.

In the wake of An­them’s an­nounce­ment, Gov. Terry McAuliffe lam­basted the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, say­ing it needed “to stop play­ing pol­i­tics with peo­ple’s lives and come to­gether in a bi­par­ti­san way” to pro­vide cer­tainty to the in­sur­ance in­dus­try.

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