The Trump administration’s decision to halt advertising for HealthCare.gov Thursday may increase pressure on insurers to withdraw from the U.S. individual major medical market, or sharply reduce participation, in 2018.
Open enrollment for 2017 started Nov. 1 and is set to end Jan. 31. Insurers and Affordable Care Act exchange managers have mostly operated under the assumption that the administration would let the exchange system continue normal operations this year, and possibly during a transitional period next year.
Paul Demko of Politico reported Thursday that the administration is withdrawing about $5 million in ads that were supposed to tell consumers about the end of the open enrollment period.
Kristine Grow, a senior vice president at America’s Health Insurance Plans, sent out a statement from the Washington-based group with the introduction, “I wanted to be sure you had our statement on the matter.”
Maximizing participation in the individual health insurance market is one good way to cut enrollees’ costs, AHIP said in the statement.
“Balancing out the risk pool is an important action that can be taken now to help stabilize the market, improve affordability, and send strong signals as health plans develop their products for 2018,” AHIP said.
The reference to “strong signals” appears to be a sign that health insurers are out of patience with uncertainty about federal involvement in the individual health insurance market, and sudden federal government policy changes that hurt health insurers.
Obama administration ACA program managers hurt insurers with many sudden, last-minute moves to push back deadlines, loosen enrollment rules for new coverage, and let consumers keep coverage written under the old, pre-ACA rules.
Republicans in Congress hurt insurers with moves to cut billions of dollars in ACA program funding.