Washington’s Obamacare Exchange Is Losing A Top Insurer In 2016

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A top insurer is dropping from Washington, D.C.’s Obamacare exchange in 2016, leaving customers with fewer options than ever in the nation’s capital.

Aetna Life Insurance will no longer offer individual plans on D.C. Health Link, Washington’s own Obamacare exchange, in 2016, The Washington Post reports. Aetna is sending letters to customers notifying them that their plans will be canceled at the end of this year. The company says it has “determined we can no longer meet the needs of our customers while remaining competitive in the market.”

That will leave just one company on the exchange, CareFirst, that provides Preferred Provider Organization plans, or PPOs, which offer a wider choice of approved doctors and hospitals to customers. Just two other companies currently offer health maintenance organizations, HMOs, on the exchange.

That will leave customers looking for greater choice in their health care options with just one insurance company, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, which is drastically hiking premium rates across the region.

CareFirst has already proposed rate increases from 3 percent to 17 percent, according to the Post. In nearby Maryland, CareFirst has requested that state regulators allow it to hike rates by up to 30.4 percent in 2016, The Baltimore Sun reports.

DC Health Link’s director, Mila Kofman, told The Post that the shrinking number of options isn’t a loss for the competitiveness of the exchange and that Aetna’s decision to leave the exchange won’t harm residents.

“When you have products when there’s not a whole lot of interest to buy, that’s the market telling the carrier what they are selling, people can’t afford. So in terms of competition, it’s not a loss,” Kofman said. “I don’t consider that real competition.”

Aetna will continue to offer employer-provided plans on the exchange — including for Congress and its staff. Federal employees make a large part of Washington’s Obamacare customers, as they are required by the health care law itself to purchase coverage on the exchange.

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