Anthem will pull out of ‘volatile’ Wisconsin health care exchanges in 2018

Anthem says it’ll pull out of the exchanges in Wisconsin next year, saying the uncertain marketplace has made it “increasingly difficult” for insurers to price their products.

The announcement today comes as insurers face a deadline with the feds to say whether they’d like to participate in the exchanges in 2018. One other insurer, Onalaska-based Health Tradition Health Plan, also announced today that it will not offer individual plans on the exchanges in 2018.

Anthem spokesman Jeff Blunt said in a statement today the company has made the “difficult decision to reduce” its individual plan offerings next year to one off-exchange plan in Menominee County, where participation from insurers is lower than other parts of the state.

He said the feds have taken some steps to stabilize the marketplaces, such as revisions to the risk adjustment formula for insurers.

But that hasn’t been enough, he said, particularly as Republicans weigh whether they’ll eliminate some Obamacare cost-sharing subsidies for eligible consumers.

“The Wisconsin individual market remains volatile, making planning and pricing for ACA-compliant health plans increasingly difficult due to a shrinking and deteriorating individual market, as well as continual changes and uncertainty in federal operations, rules and guidance, including cost sharing reduction subsidies and the restoration of taxes on fully insured coverage,” he said.

He said Anthem’s decision today doesn’t affect grandfathered plans, as well as its employer-based insurance options and its Medicare Advantage and Medicaid plans.

“As the Wisconsin Individual market continues to evolve, Anthem will continue to advocate solutions that will stabilize the market to allow us to return and offer consumers in Wisconsin Individual health plan solutions in the future,” he said.

In an email, Blunt declined to say why Anthem is staying in Menominee County for its off-exchange plan but said “offering in one county allows us to maintain state eligibility requirements to re-enter the individual market should it stabilize in the coming year.”

“We hope to do so,” he said.

Gov. Scott Walker, meanwhile, said the announcement is another sign that “Obamacare is collapsing.”

“Growing uncertainty in the health insurance market was created by Obamacare’s costly regulations and it is causing higher premiums and a lack of options,” he said. “If we do nothing, more companies will back out and more people will lose coverage. Wisconsin families expect and deserve better health care coverage options and the time to act is now.”

–By Polo Rocha