In 2017 there will be only one insurer selling health care plans in the Obamacare exchanges in one-third of the country, according to an analysis from Avalere experts.
Avalere, a health care consulting firm, compared the health insurance carriers that offered Obamacare coverage in 2016 to the carriers who have announced their intention to exit the exchanges in 2017, such as Aetna, Humana, UnitedHealthcare, and some co-ops.
The experts projected that 36 percent of exchange market rating regions in the United States in 2017 will have just one health insurance carrier, and 55 percent of regions will have two or fewer carriers. This is a significant increase from 2016, when only 4 percent of regions had one or fewer health insurance carriers and 33 percent of regions had two or fewer insurers.
Seven states—Alaska, Alabama, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming—will have only one health insurance carrier per rating region in 2017.
Experts at Avalere said there may be some sub-regional counties where no plans are offered in 2017. No insurer plans to sell coverage in Pinal Country, Arizona next year, according to a report from the Hill.
"Depending on where consumers live, their choice of insurance plans may decrease for 2017," said Elizabeth Carpenter, senior vice president at Avalere. "Some exchange enrollees may need to choose another insurance plan in order to maintain coverage."
Large health insurers have announced they are exiting the marketplaces because of unsustainable financial losses.
"Lower-than-expected enrollment, a high cost population, and troubled risk mitigation programs have led to decreased plan participation for 2017," said Dan Mendelson, president of Avalere. "Congress and the Administration can choose to stabilize these markets and re-establish competition—but only through a consensus process that brings in a broader swatch of the uninsured."
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services said consumers will have many choices when open enrollment begins.
"This report is premature and incomplete," said Marjorie Connolly, the department’s press secretary. "A number of steps remain before the full picture of Marketplace competition and prices are known."
"We remain confident that the majority of Marketplace consumers will have multiple choices and will be able to select a plan for less than $75 per month when Open Enrollment begins November 1st," she said.