Aetna withdraws from another exchange

With the start of the open enrollment period only a few weeks away, insurers keep dropping out of health insurance exchanges across the country. The most recent announcement came from Aetna, which said it no longer will sell plans in the New Jersey marketplace.

"This decision was not made lightly and it is important to note that our existing business in the state is not impacted," said Aetna spokeswoman Susan Millerick, according to Star-Ledger.

The insurer will still sell all its plans off the exchange and "will continue to assess our ability to participate on N.J.'s exchange in 2015 and beyond," she added.

Aetna made similar statements made when it exited the New York exchange last month, explaining that its acquisition of insurer Coventry changed its business strategy. "We came to this decision as part of our ongoing review of Aetna's overall company strategy, including the impact of the Coventry acquisition which closed in May, after the original exchange filings were submitted for both companies," Millerick said.

This week's decision means consumers in New Jersey will have to choose plans offered by only three insurers--Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, AmeriHealth New Jersey and Health Republic Insurance of New Jersey, which is a new consumer oriented and operated plan, the NJBiz reported.

However, Joel Cantor, director of the Center for State Health Policy at Rutgers University, said Aetna's departure isn't likely to dramatically affect the market. "I don't see a huge negative consequence," Cantor told the Star-Ledger. "More competition is better but I don't think consumers will notice higher prices. They will notice less choice."

To learn more:
- read the Star-Ledger article
- see the NJBiz article