UnitedHealth to exit Georgia, Arkansas health insurance exchanges

In the wake of its declining profits in the individual market, UnitedHealth now says it will pull out of the Affordable Care Act exchanges in two states, Bloomberg reports.

United has not made a secret of its struggle to turn a profit on ACA-compliant products, as it revised its earnings outlook late last year to account for mounting losses and said it may consider leaving the exchanges entirely. CEO Stephen Hemsley also has said the company should have waited another year before entering the exchanges, and remarked that "we can't really subsidize a marketplace that doesn't appear at the moment to be sustaining itself."

Friday's announcement that it will exit the marketplace in Georgia and Arkansas seems to make good on that assessment. A United spokesman confirmed the insurer's plans to Bloomberg, but would not say if the company intended to exit any additional state marketplaces.

Other major insurers--including Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, which are dominant on many state exchanges--have also reported losses in the individual market, citing higher-than-expected medical claims. Some, though, have said they plan to stick it out while the markets stabilize.

United has a "small footprint" in Georgia, a spokesman from the state's insurance department told Bloomberg, and in Arkansas, the exchange offers plans from eight other insurers. And though United is the nation's largest for-profit insurer, currently only about 650,000 of its 42 million medical customers are enrolled in ACA-compliant policies, the article notes.

To learn more:
- here's the Bloomberg article

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