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Capital BlueCross to cut ACA plan options for 2017

Capital BlueCross is reducing the number of health plans it will offer in 2017 through the marketplace created by Affordable Care Act, the Harrisburg-based insurer announced today.

Although Capital BlueCross is committed to participating in the individual marketplace, changes among competitors in the exchange led the insurer to reduce the number of plans it offers, a news release said.

Competition in the marketplace is changing, with fewer insurers expected to participate in 2017. Companies such as Aetna have already bowed out of the Pennsylvania market

Insurers are leaving because they say they have paid out more than they’ve made on plans sold through the exchange since it opened in 2014, largely due to underestimating costs.

Individuals who signed up for health plans through the ACA were either previously uninsured or under-insured. They have used their health insurance plans at higher rates than expected.

Until now, Capital BlueCross has not had to reduce or eliminate any health plans it sells in the marketplace, according to spokesperson Kirsten Page.

“The changes for 2017 reflect the instability in the health care industry brought on by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” Page said.

Capital BlueCross did not share the number of plans it will remove from the exchange, but more details are forthcoming, Page said, noting that customers can still expect multiple health plan options.

Aside from reducing the number of plans it offers through the marketplace, Capital BlueCross asked the Pennsylvania Insurance Department for permission to raise individual health plan premiums by 20 percent.

A decision from the department is still pending.

Open enrollment for the individual marketplace in 2017 starts Nov. 1, and ends Dec. 15, with coverage taking effect Jan. 1.

Lenay Ruhl

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