Newly popular, Obamacare is still losing insurers

The election of Donald Trump seems to have done wonders for Obamacare. Wednesday, Gallup reported a majority of respondents (55%) approved of the law for the first time since it started asking the question in 2012. Just last November, the same poll found only 42% approved while 53% disapproved. It seems the possibility of losing it made a lot of people’s hearts suddenly grow fonder.

But even as the law’s supporters are celebrating the polling, there are signs Obamacare is still in the process of collapsing. Today, Aetna announced it will not be selling plans on the Iowa exchange in 2018. That follows an announcement Monday by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield that it will pull out of the Iowa market in 2018. From CNN Money:

The company said it has had double digit premium increases and suffered $90 million in losses in its Obamacare-compliant plans over the past three years.

“While there are many potential solutions, the timing and relative impact of those solutions is currently unclear,” said Wellmark CEO John Forsyth. “This makes it difficult to establish plans for 2018.”

But the really bad news came last week when an analyst for Jeffries stated that Anthem, which currently covers 800,000 people in 14 states, was likely to pull out of most Obamacare business next year. From Reuters:

Anthem is leaning toward exiting a “high percentage” of the 144 rating regions in which it currently participates, Jefferies analysts said in a note on Thursday after talking to the health insurer…

The mix of sick and healthy customers has been worse than expected, and premium rates on the individual insurance market went up 25 percent this year.

According to Investor’s Business Daily, Anthem lost $374 million on Obamacare plans last year. Anthem is a publicly traded company so it has a lot of incentive to get out. It’s still possible the outlook could improve, but the next couple months could also bring more announcements of companies pulling out of states where they are losing money on the exchanges. We’ll know soon just how stable these markets really are.

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