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Exiting Stage Left: Few Insurance Options Remain for Parts of U.S.

Pinal County, a population of 400,000 southeast of Phoenix, may not have any insurance options on the exchange for next year. This is just one place around the country where Americans will be left with few, if any, choices for health insurance.

The original idea was for multiple insurers to compete for business, controlling cost and increasing quality. Instead the opposite is happening. According to, rates may jump 24% next year, and a quarter of U.S. counties could have only one insurer to pick from.

When the health insurance exchanges began, Arizonans had eight insurance companies to choose from, but now, about half of the state’s counties are down to just one. Both Blue Cross Blue Shield and United Health offered plans in Pinal County this year, but with United leaving and Blue Cross cutting back, residents are left without an option for mandatory coverage. Obamacare has an exemption from penalties if there’s not an affordable option on the exchange. People can buy insurance outside of the exchange, but these plans aren’t eligible for tax subsidies. The average monthly subsidy in Arizona is $230, with more than two thirds of those with exchange plans qualified to receive one.

This is happening in places across the country. The whole states of South Carolina and Alabama may be down to one option, as well as parts of Georgia and North Carolina. Aetna is pulling out of 11 of the 15 states where they sell on the exchanges, stating $300 million in projected losses for this year. Only seven insurance “co-ops” of the original 23 are still operating. More than two million people will have to select new plans in 2017.

There is little that the government can do in places where there are no insurers selling plans on the exchanges. It can’t force insurers to offer coverage and can’t stop them from leaving. Unless the law changes, these conditions are not going to change.

For elective procedures, lab tests, and routine office visits, MediBid finds patients great prices outside of insurance networks. MediBid offers affordable medical care for those who may be uninsured, underinsured, or simply wanting more timely medical care.
Tracer, Zachary and Darie, Tatiana. “Insurer Exits From Obamacare Turn Few Choices Into None.” News. Bloomberg, 17 Aug 2016. Web. 21 Aug 2016.

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