Published: Sun, September 17, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Virginia Officials Issue Statements on Anthem Decision

Virginia Officials Issue Statements on Anthem Decision

But earlier this week, Optima slightly expanded the area where it will sell exchange products next year, and Anthem on Friday announced it would keep selling marketplace plans in 68 cities and counties in Virginia, 63 of which had appeared at risk of lacking a marketplace insurer.

Indianapolis-based Anthem backpedaled its planned exit from Virginia's individual health insurance marketplace, Forbes reports.

Just a month earlier, Anthem had announced it wouldn't offer ACA exchange coverage in the state, blaming "continued uncertainty" surrounding the law and the payment of cost-sharing reduction subsidies to insurers.

"Since learning that 63 counties and cities would not have access to individual health plans, Anthem has been engaged in further evaluation and discussion with regulators to ensure that no bare counties or cities exist in Virginia", company spokesman Scott Golden said in a news release.

Without Anthem's re-entry, 70,000 Virginians, 40,000 of them in the Roanoke and New River valleys, would be unable to buy insurance next year at any price. Virginia's 10th Congressional District, which stretches from Northern Virginia to the West Virginia border and includes Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties, had 39,800 Affordable Care Act enrollments in 2016, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. This left most localities in the northern Shenandoah Valley without any options to purchase an Affordable Care Act plan during the upcoming open enrollment period, which runs from November 1 to December 15. On Thursday, Kaine called on insurers like Anthem to stop depriving people in rural Virginia of opportunities by limiting coverage options or pulling out of the individual markets.

Earlier this week, however, the company said it will continue to sell individual plans in all of CT. But it revised its health insurance offerings for 2018 on Friday.

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Officials in Washington praised the decision by Anthem and said they understood change is needed.

Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, whose district was widely affected, said, "I am appreciative that Anthem re-entered the market, ensuring that Southwest Virginians will have an option to purchase health insurance in 2018".

"It's time for the Trump Administration to stop their efforts to sabotage and destabilize the markets, which resulted in fewer choices and higher premiums for 2018", said Sens.

Like other insurers, Anthem has flagged lack of clarity about key aspects of the ACA at the federal level as a reason for its decisions, including the uncertain fate of federal payments that are used to lower health-care costs for low-income ACA enrollees.

However, Optima also changed course, restoring coverage in five counties, including New Kent and an uncovered portion of Louisa, and the city of Franklin.

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