Anthem, a major health insurance company in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Family, has recently announced its decision to completely pull out of the Obamacare exchanges in Ohio. The change will go into effect in the beginning of 2018. The company cited the overall unpredictability of the political situation surrounding the Affordable Healthcare Act, including efforts by the Trump Administration and Republican lawmakers to repeal the law, which is better known as Obamacare.
Anthem’s decision will leave approximately twenty Ohio counties with no provider options in Obamacare. In addition to the general concerns about the future of the system, Anthem and other insurance companies are worried that Congress may end subsidies that help lower-income insureds pay for their coverage. Under Obamacare, around $7 billion in subsidies are paid to insurance companies participating in the Affordable Healthcare Act marketplaces.
Responding to the announcement, several Ohio lawmakers expressed support for the Obamacare repeal effort in congress, which previously stalled in the senate. However, senate leadership is currently discussing plans to mount a repeal effort, which played a part in Anthem’s decision. Due to the uncertain climate, it is estimated that this year up to 270,000 people may have no insurance providers at all to choose from in the marketplace. At present, around two dozen counties in Missouri lack any providers in the state marketplace, and it seemed that Tennesseans would also have no Obamacare options until Blue Cross and Blue Shield agreed to offer health plans in the state exchange on a provisional basis.
Anthem is the largest provider in the Blue Cross Blue Shield network. The company was previously called WellPoint, before being acquired by Anthem Insurance Company and changing its name to Anthem in 2014. At the time of the merger, WellPoint was the largest insurer in the United States.