Recent health insurer exits from the Obamacare exchanges have caused two more counties to be left with no options next year, according to new data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The agency has been looking at health insurer announcements and compiling data to see which counties will have no Obamacare insurer operating in 2018. Roughly two weeks ago, the agency projected that 47 counties would have no insurer operating next year.
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Since that time, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield announced that they would be dropping Obamacare coverage in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana due to volatility and a deteriorating individual market.
Now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has released new projections and estimates that based on announcements through June 27 there will be 49 counties left with no insurers operating. They also project that there will be 1,300 counties that would only have one insurer operating, which is 100 more than they previously projected.
"We continue to see a decline in issuer participation in the Health Insurance Exchanges leaving consumers with fewer and fewer insurance options," said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. "I am deeply concerned about the crisis situation facing the individual market in many states across the nation."
Even if an individual lives in an area where there is no insurer offering health coverage, individuals will still be forced to purchase coverage because of Obamacare's individual mandate.
Senators Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) and Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) have introduced legislation that would protect people from being penalized for not having insurance when there are no insurers operating on the exchanges in their area.
The Health Care Options Act of 2017 would waive the penalty in these cases and allow individuals to purchase coverage outside of the exchanges.
"This legislation would help those in Knoxville and across the country by allowing any American who receives a subsidy and has no insurance available on their exchange next year to use that subsidy to buy any state-approved insurance off of the exchange," said Sen. Corker. "Second, the bill would waive the Affordable Care Act requirement that these Americans, who have zero insurance options with their subsides, have to pay a penalty for not purchasing insurance."
"Third, this legislation will help bring peace of mind between now and the beginning of next year to millions of Americans, some of the most vulnerable people in the country, who face having zero options of health insurance to purchase with their subsidy," he said.