Humana’s been making a lot of news lately. On January 23, a federal judge blocked the proposed $37 billion merger between Humana and Aetna. On February 14, the companies announced that they wouldn’t appeal the ruling and that that they were walking away from the deal they’d been working on for the last year-and-a-half. Then, later that same day, Humana made news once again when it announced that it would not be participating in the Obamacare exchanges in 2018. While the company will presumably continue to offer plans outside the Marketplace, it won’t be selling individual health plans eligible for a government subsidy through the federal or state exchanges.
On its own, this isn’t that big of deal. Humana had already pulled out of the Marketplace in a number of states. But now that the company has made the decision on a nationwide basis, it certainly makes you wonder whether this will be the first of multiple Marketplace exits by major insurance carriers.
In what the New York Times called a “no-confidence vote” for the public exchanges, the announcement by Humana prompted President Trump to tweet that “Obamacare continues to fail,” promising to “repeal, replace & save healthcare for ALL Americans.”
Ironically, the reason the court blocked the Aetna-Humana merger (and the Anthem-Cigna merger as well) is because the multi-billion-dollar deals would limit competition and be bad for healthcare consumers. With Humana deciding not to offer Marketplace plans in 2018, though, we’re really in the same position.
The question about what other carriers will do is a big one. As the Times explains, “Several major insurers have said they cannot begin to decide whether to offer coverage next year until the government clarifies if and how it plans to change the rules.” We should have that answer soon. Republicans are busy working on an ACA replacement plan, and the Trump administration has proposed regulations to stabilize the individual market. We’ll see if it works—and if it’s enough to entice other insurers to stick around for another year.
Regardless of what happens, we’re confident that there will be an outside market for individual coverage, and we know for sure that people will need financial protection against the high cost of medical claims. That means that you’ll have a job and will have something to sell.
What we would suggest, though, is that you take steps now to add a few products to your portfolio. In this game of musical chairs that is the insurance industry in 2017, you want to have as many options as possible for your clients in case their current carrier decides it no longer wants to play. To learn about the solutions we can help you with, visit http://www.ahcpsales.com/our-carriers/.