Insurers step in to fill bare spots on Ohio's ACA exchange

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Ohio, in which 20 counties were set to lack an ACA exchange insurer next year, now will have just one bare county.

Five insurers have stepped in to fill in nearly all of the coverage gaps in Ohio’s individual market left by Anthem’s decision to exit, reducing the number of “bare” counties expected nationwide in 2018.

The insurers—Buckeye Health Plan, CareSource, Medical Mutual of Ohio, Molina Health Care of Ohio and Paramount Health Care—will offer coverage in 19 of the 20 counties that were set to be without any Affordable Care Act exchange options next year.

Ohio Department of Insurance Director Jillian Froment said Monday that there is “more work to do” to ensure the remaining bare county has coverage options next year.

“We will continue working with the industry, but those efforts are heavily dependent on market stability and clarity from Washington,” she said. “We encourage Congress to work on ways to stabilize our health insurance markets.”

RELATED: Fewer insurers mean higher premiums in ACA exchanges

Now, by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s count, just 19 counties nationwide are set to have no on-exchange option in 2018—down from the projected 38 before the development in Ohio. The number has fluctuated considerably since insurers began their preliminary filings with state regulators, with announcements of insurer exits sometimes followed by other carriers stepping in to close coverage gaps.

But while other insurers have covered most of the gaps left by Anthem’s exit in Ohio, the company's withdrawals in two other states—Nevada and Indiana—is responsible for the rest of the country’s bare counties. Insurers have until this fall to finalize their plan offerings for next year, so the level of competition in the marketplaces now still could change.

Indeed, Anthem’s CEO said last week that the insurer, which sold individual market policies in 14 states this year, may exit more states in 2018 if steps aren’t taken to stabilize the ACA exchanges—chiefly, continuing cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments.

President Donald Trump is expected to decide this week whether his administration will continue funding CSR payments, which are at the center of a federal court case that challenges their legality.

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