Health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield announced Thursday that it would not be participating in the individual market in Nebraska next year, and the remaining insurer hasn't decided if it will leave also.
Blue Cross Blue Shield is projected to lose $12 million this year from offering plans in the state, and the company would need to increase its price for premiums next year by 50 percent. The company previously participated in the Obamacare exchanges, which resulted in $150 million in losses.
Democrats and the law's defenders have pointed to such moves as evidence of Republican sabotage of Obamacare, while Republicans point to results as evidence that the law isn't working. Nebraska's Republican governor, Pete Ricketts, said the decision from Blue Cross "demonstrates the failure of Obamacare and how the system was so poorly designed that great companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield can't stay in the marketplace. It highlights that Congress needs to act to make the health care system sustainable."
Insurers have blamed a variety of factors for their decisions, including uncertainty injected into the market by the Trump administration, as well as the failure to sign up enough young, healthy people in these plans to balance out risk pools. Blue Cross, in posting rate requests for North Carolina, blamed lack of certainty over Obamacare payments, called cost-sharing reduction subsidies, for its double-digit request.
About 100,000 Nebraskans purchase their health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges, which allow most enrollees to receive tax subsidies to pay for their plans. Medica is the other insurer offering plans on the exchange in Nebraska.
"Things are still changing daily," Geoff Bartsh, vice president for Medica's individual and family business, told the Omaha World-Herald. "We're still looking at changes and will continue to evaluate things. We are still planning to participate in the Nebraska market for 2018. We haven't made any final decisions on that yet."
Aetna announced its decision in May to exit the exchange in Nebraska for 2018.
This story has been updated to clarify Blue Cross Blue Shield's involvement in the invidual market.