Aetna to pull out of all current Affordable Care Act exchanges

A trader points up at a display on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

A trader points up at a display on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Obamacare, former President Barack Obama's signature health reform initiative, relies on government-run exchanges in which insurance companies sell policies to individuals and families that lack employer-provided health insurance plans. Coverage will last through the end of 2017. In addition, the balance of sick and healthy customers has been worse than expected, and premium rates on the individual insurance market went up 25 percent this year.

Ultimately, though, insurers with the most common brand in health insurance, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, will decide the fate of the exchanges.

"We will not offer on- or off-exchange individual plans in DE or Nebraska for 2018, and at this time have completely exited the exchanges", Aetna said in a statement Wednesday.

Aetna projected around $225 million in losses from its exchange plan businesses this year following a loss of $700 million for 2014 through 2016.

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Aetna, based in Hartford, Connecticut, becomes the latest health insurer to pull out of the federal health law, also known as Obamacare, as Republicans attack the program as failing and work to dismantle it, Bloomberg reported.

Aetna announced in August 2016 that it was removing its offerings from roughly 70% of the exchanges in which the company participated. No mention was made of concerns over the future of ObamaCare, which had been cited a week ago when Aetna announced that it was leaving exchanges in Virginia and Iowa. "This continued assault on the ACA's insurance marketplaces, just when they were becoming financially stable, has sowed confusion and fear among Americans about whether they will be able to access health care". The insurer once covered more than 800,000 people through that marketplace, but it says steep losses have forced it to rapidly scale back.

Remaining insurers are requesting big rate hikes for next year. Another insurer, Medica, said earlier this month that its "ability to stay in the Iowa insurance market in any capacity is in question at this point".

HealthKeepers, an affiliate of Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, hopes for a 38% increase. But insurers like Humana, and now Aetna, have been fleeing that market, and the remaining coverage options are growing thin.

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