Obamacare CEO Kevin Counihan counterstrikes after Aetna’s ACA exit

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In the aftermath of Aetna’s ACA exchange exit, which leaves places like Pinal County, Arizona, with no insurers scheduled to offer plans in 2017, Obamacare CEO Kevin Counihan says HHS has already revved up its efforts to recruit insurers to fill in the gaps, according to an interview with Politico.

Insurers, including most recently the Dallas-based insurer Scott & White Health Plan, say sicker, more expensive populations mean they're losing money on government-created marketplaces. Aetna, Scott & White, UnitedHealth and Humana have all said they can't afford to keep offering the plans.

This week, Aetna dropped out of 68 percent of the exchanges in which it was operating.

But the insurance market--a market based in risk, after all--will always be dynamic. That was the case even before healthcare reform. “This is the nature of the industry,” Counihan told Politico. 

RELATED: The fallout from Aetna's ACA exchange exit

According to University of Chicago economist Robert Kaestner, these exits are entirely normal.

“I don’t think it’s a particularly unusual situation where the firms are leaving the market,” Kaestner told Salon. “The fact that firms can leave and enter markets means the markets are, in fact, quite competitive.”  

RELATED: Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren weigh in on Aetna’s latest move

Counihan maintains focusing on the name brands that are leaving exchanges may be a mistake, telling Politico that the business is just too dynamic to think about brands. 

In many cases, he said, the best insurance companies are lesser known--or may not even exist yet. 

- listen to the Politico interview
- here’s the Salon article