Millions of Americans May Have No Obamacare Insurance Options in 2018

Remember: Obamacare is not imploding:

Says Vox

Says USA Today

Says Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber

Says the Daily Beast

Says Rep. Sander Levin

Says...well, you get the idea.

The New York Times doesn't come right out and say it, but the Times published an article detailing how millions of Americans are going to be left high and dry next year by insurance companies that are fleeing the state exchanges to avoid losing their shirts.

Two of the largest remaining insurance companies involved with Obamacare will not be offering any plans on the state exchanges next year. Since those companies were the sole provider of Obamacare insurance in dozens of counties, this means that large swaths of the country will not be able to purchase subsidized insurance policies, forcing many of them to go without.

Many counties already have just one insurer offering health plans in the Obamacare marketplaces, and some of those solo insurers are showing signs that they are eyeing the exits.

Humana announced this year that they’d be leaving the markets altogether next year. That means there are parts of Tennessee that will have no insurance options unless another insurer decides to enter.

And Anthem, which operates in 14 states, is getting nervous, an industry analyst told Bloomberg News this week. Its departure would be a much bigger problem. According to an analysis of government data by Katherine Hempstead at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Anthem is currently the only insurance carrier in nearly 300 counties, serving about a quarter of a million people.

Even Blue Cross Blue Shield, one of Obamacare's biggest boosters in the industry, is running away from the exchanges.

One thing is certain. Any help for insurance companies and consumers will not be coming from Washington. There will be no congressional bailout for insurance companies. There will be no White House support either.

Anthem could well stay in the markets. It may simply be floating the option of departure to improve its negotiating position with the Trump administration over various regulatory requests. Or it may be expressing anxiety about the future. Insurers around the country are worried about the policy environment surrounding the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Trump has said that the health law “will explode” — a comment that may suggest he will do little to help the markets, or could even set the fuse.

When insurers left communities in recent years, the Obama administration and local officials worked hard to recruit replacements. The Trump administration might not do the same. So far, no carrier has come forward publicly to say it will serve the counties in Tennessee that Humana is leaving.

Insurers are making initial decisions about where to sell their products and how much to charge. But the final lineup of insurers is still several months away. Some states require companies to file initial requests this month, and the Trump administration has asked for price proposals in late June. If, after that, insurers decide the political or regulatory outlook looks less favorable, they will still have several months to leave the markets.

The situation has the potential to snowball with the exit of big insurance companies leading to smaller companies cutting back their exposure or leaving as well. This means more Americans without any coverage options.

How can anyone say with a straight face that Obamacare isn't imploding? It isn't just disappearing insurance companies. Those customers signing up are older and sicker, driving up costs even more. This, in turn, will drive more companies away from the exchanges leaving fewer and fewer options for the consumer. This isn't speculation. This isn't some right-wing fantasy.  It is exactly what's happened since Obamacare was implemented.

Calls to "fix" Obamacare are coming from Democrats, but how can you fix a machine that never worked as intended and was at least partially designed to blow up anyway?

The deniers will continue to tell us there's no need to worry, Obamacare isn't imploding. Meanwhile, evidence that contradicts that ridiculous assumption continues to pile up. No doubt the deniers will continue spouting their narrative until the day the last exchange is closed and the last insurance company gives up.