- Pool/Getty Images
Optima, a Virginia-based health insurer, will exit a slew of individual healthcare exchanges in the state for 2018, the company announced Wednesday.
The insurer said it would leave many rural areas of the state, following the exits of large insurers like Anthem from the same areas. The company cited the other insurer exits as well as “uncertainty in Washington” as reasons for the exit.
“The decisions we made were challenging ones given the recent changes and ambiguities in the marketplace,” Optima CEO Michael Dudley said in a statement. “Our most recent filing with the state reflects these dynamic changes, as would be expected in these circumstances.”
According to The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-policy think tank, the exit will leave 63 counties in the state with no insurer. Just more than 70,000 people enrolled in the individual exchange plans in those counties this year, per Kaiser, leaving them at risk of having no coverage next year.
Optima’s exit also brings back the possibility of empty coverage areas in 2018 after parts of Nevada, Indiana, and Ohio recently found insurers to fill potentially barren counties.
The possibility of counties going without an insurer has long been one of the biggest potential setbacks for the exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law better known as Obamacare, since there is no backup option for people in areas without an insurer.