Aetna, one of the nation's largest health insurers, has announced that it will exit all Affordable Care Act exchanges in 2018 after experiencing massive losses in 2016 and 2017.
Aetna announced in August of last year that it would scale back its participation in the Obamacare exchanges in 2017—from operating in 778 counties to 242—citing losses of more than $430 million since January 2014. At that time, the company said it would still operate in four states: Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska, and Virginia.
Earlier this month, the company said it would exit the exchanges in both Iowa and Virginia, saying the insurer has continued to face profitability headwinds from individual commercial products. The company even went so far as to set aside a fund to buffer it from projected losses.
"Looking beyond 2017, we continue to evaluate our footprint with a view towards significantly reducing our exposure to individual commercial products in 2018," said Shawn Guertin, Aetna's chief financial officer. "We have already disclosed our planned 2018 exit from one of our 2017 state-based exchanges and intend to communicate other 2018 footprint decisions when appropriate."
A week later, the company is now announcing the exit of the last two states it was participating in.
"We will not offer on- or off-exchange individual plans in Delaware or Nebraska for 2018, and at this time have completely exited the exchanges," said T.J. Crawford, a spokesman for Aetna.
"Our individual commercial products lost nearly $700 million between 2014 and 2016 and are projected to lose more than $200 million in 2017 despite a significant reduction in membership," said Crawford. "Those losses are the result of marketplace structural issues that have led to co-op failures and carrier exits and subsequent risk-pool deterioration."
Aetna's CEO Mark Bertolini has said the Affordable Care Act is in a "death spiral," illustrating how premiums have increased and more healthy individuals are dropping out. This was the most outspoken of Bertolini's statements regarding the deterioration of Obamacare.