UnitedHealth to exit California's Affordable Care Act marketplace

By Annette Boyle

California insurance officials have confirmed that UnitedHealth will not participate in the state's Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange in 2017, according to CaliforniaHealthline.

The announcement adds to the list of state exchanges from which UnitedHealth has decided to withdraw. Bloomberg previously reported that the insurer had exited at least 27 of the 34 states in which it offered ACA policies last year.

UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley announced in April that the company would remain in ACA marketplaces in just a "handful" of states in 2017, though he did not say specifically where the company would continue offering plans.

UnitedHealth's move will have minimal impact on Californians, as the company had only entered the state's ACA exchange in 2016 and had approximately 1,200 enrollees, according to CaliforniaHealthline. The company had no individual policyholders outside of Covered California.

The state had restricted UnitedHealth to several smaller markets in predominantly rural counties in Northern California, as well as Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties as of 2016, because it did not participate in the state's ACA exchange in the first two years.

Other insurers have found California a profitable marketplace, as a result of strong enrollment and one of the healthiest risk pools in the country, according to the article. About 1.4 million people obtain insurance through the exchange.

Covered California's Executive Director Peter Lee sharply criticized UnitedHealth in February for attributing its losses to the ACA rather than taking responsibility for making mistakes on rates and networks.

To learn more:
- read the article

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