Optima — a Virginia-based health insurer — will exit a slew of Obamacare exchanges in the state for 2018, the company announced Wednesday.
The insurer said it would leave many rural areas of the state, following the exits of large insurers like Anthem from the same areas. The company cited the other insurer exits as well as “uncertainty in Washington” as reasons for the exit.
“The decisions we made were challenging ones given the recent changes and ambiguities in the marketplace,” Optima CEO Michael Dudley said in a statement. “Our most recent filing with the state reflects these dynamic changes, as would be expected in these circumstances.”
According to The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy think tank, the exit will leave 63 counties in the state with no insurer. Just over 70,000 people enrolled in Obamacare exchange plans in 2017 in these counties, per Kaiser, leaving them at risk of having no coverage next year.
Optima’s exit also brings back the possibility of empty coverage areas in 2018 after states like Nevada, Indiana, and Ohio found insurers to fill their potentially barren counties.
The possibility of counties going without an insurer has long been one of the biggest potential setbacks for the Obamacare exchanges, since there is no back up option for individuals in areas without an insurer.
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