One Blues plan exits ACA exchange; another will stick it out

Document titled "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act"

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One Blue Cross Blue Shield plan has decided to exit the federal insurance marketplace, but another Blues plan that looked like it would exit has decided to continue selling exchange plans.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) said on Friday it would discontinue its ACA products due to poor financial performance threatening the payer’s responsibility “to remain stable and secure.”

Despite BCBSNE getting approval for its requested premium hike, the insurer said ACA forecasts showed “significant and continual” financial losses. The insurer said it tallied $140 million in losses after two years of selling ACA products.

BCBSNE will continue to sell individual products outside the exchanges, it said, but noted that without modifications to the healthcare reform law, the exchanges won’t stabilize. Barring changes, “costs will continue to increase for both insurers and customers,” its announcement states.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC), however, has announced that it will continue offering ACA exchange plans.

BCBSNC’s commitment quells worries from earlier this month when CEO Brad Wilson said the insurer was considering bowing out of the exchange. Despite reporting some $405 million in losses the past two years, Wilson said it would make “necessary” changes to plan benefits to offset its ACA members’ high healthcare utilization rates.

By remaining on the exchange, BCBSNC will also have to deal with the unexpected addition of 260,000 customers previously served by Aetna, which discontinued ACA products in almost 70 percent of counties where it previously offered plans, the announcement added. 

BCBSNC is the "only insurer to serve all North Carolinians in the individual market," according to Wilson, who also says that "while crunching the numbers was an important step, we also take seriously our commitment to improve the health and well-being of our customers and communities."