The Affordable Care Act is not entirely a fan favorite among some health care providers, at least as far as UnitedHealth Group is concerned. In a report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, UnitedHealth Group is reconsidering its participation in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange markets come 2017.
The reason? UnitedHealthcare announced that it expects losses in its ACA marketplace business. UnitedHealth Group stated that the first half of 2016 would exist as a testing period to determine whether they continue to participate in certain exchange markets next year. To date, certain subsidiaries of UnitedHealth Group will pull out from the Health Insurance Marketplaces for States like Michigan and Arkansas, with a partial pull out in Georgia in 2017.
In 2016, UnitedHealth accounted for inclusion in 34 states’ marketplaces, offering one of the most cost effective silver plans for 21% of the U.S. counties in the states in which it was a participant. As UnitedHealth’s participation in the ACA is to be decided at the end of the year, early reports suggest the losses would be conditional by state and county. Notably, considering UnitedHealth is not the most widespread lowest cost provider, the country as a whole wouldn’t feel a significant loss. Rather, it’s on a localized level, as states like Alabama, Nebraska, Arizona, North Carolina, and Iowa would feel a bigger hit on premiums as opposed to other states.
A removal of UnitedHealth from the marketplace would reduce the selection of providers in certain counties. Over 500 counties would only have one or two options should UnitedHealth withdraw. While three providers is common within the Marketplace, most counties would still have those options should UnitedHealth remove itself from the Affordable Care Act.
UnitedHealth Group may not pose a nationwide threat to affordable health care options should they choose to no longer participate in the Affordable Care Act in 2017. However, there are those who will still be affected. To view the KFF’s full analysis, click here.
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