United States: Clean Up On Aisle 12! The Obamacare Pop-Up Store Is Open But Stocks Are Limited

The fifth Open Enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) started on November 1st, and will continue for a scant 45 days ending on December 15, 2017. This year, not only has the Open Enrollment been cut in half, but obstacles abound – obstacles that were not part of the 2016 Open Enrollment Period. For example:

  • Healthcare.gov is undergoing maintenance that could interfere with access during the Open Enrollment Period;
  • Federal support for Open Enrollment outreach and advertising is substantially lower this year than it has been in prior Open Enrollment periods; and
  • The number of health insurers participating in the exchanges has dropped significantly from last year (prompted in part by well-founded concerns regarding the future of federal cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments), and in some counties, only one plan is available to individuals and families seeking coverage through the exchanges.

Plan Departure: A Continuing Trend from Prior Years

In 2016, a significant number of large, national insurance companies announced that they were withdrawing from the exchanges and would no longer offer health insurance coverage during 2017. As for 2018, the following chart identifies, as of October 12, 2017, both (1) those national insurance companies that will fully withdraw from one or more exchanges effective January 1, 2018, and (2) those national insurance companies that will continue to offer plans on the state exchanges in 2018 as they did in 2017.

Insurance Company:

Insurance Exchange Exits for 2018:

Insurance Exchange Participation in 2018:


Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska, Virginia



Indiana, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Wisconsin

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Virginia



Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Texas, Washington



Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia


Wisconsin, Utah

California, Florida, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Washington


Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas




Nevada, New York

Who Ordered the Retreat?

There are a variety of reasons that large national insurers are retreating from the federal and state exchanges, but as a general rule, they stem from uncertainty regarding the profitability of state exchange participation.

CSR Funding Uncertainty

President Trump's inauguration spurred speculation that the ACA's CSR subsidy payments could be discontinued, and insurance companies priced exchange plans accordingly. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the cessation of CSR payments for the 2018 calendar year – which has since come to pass – would result in a 25% increase in premiums by 2020 and at least a temporary increase in the number of areas with zero individual exchange offerings (as a result of further insurer exits and stifled entry / expansion).

The Individual Mandate

One year-over-year driver of the insurance company exodus from the exchanges is the weakness of the individual mandate.

The individual mandate is critical to whether the health insurance companies can turn a profit on the exchange plans. In an ideal world, the individual mandate would successfully induce all eligible citizens to obtain health coverage. Under such circumstances, health insurers would have a much easier time estimating enrollment, risk pools and, ultimately, profits from participation on the insurance exchanges. In practice, however, many of the "young invincibles" whose participation in the health insurance market could offset the costs of insuring older and sicker populations elect to incur the relatively modest tax penalty resulting from a failure to obtain coverage.

Even if the penalty were tougher (and as a consequence, presumably more effective), enforcement is rather lax, and the Trump administration has signaled in 2017 it may instruct the Internal Revenue Service to deprioritize enforcement of the individual mandate.

Enrollee Fraud and Gaming the System

The large national insurance companies have also complained about enrollee fraud that increases the actuarial unpredictability of the performance of a particular risk pool. For example, insurers have complained that enrollees in an exchange plan may have an expensive procedure early in the year, and then stop paying premiums after the insurance plan has paid for the procedure.

The Importance of the Big Players in the ACA Exchanges

Because they have greater resources to understand, and hedge, the actuarial risks of the exchange plans – including balancing the prospects of fraud, unhealthy patient mix and less then desirable compliance with the individual mandate – large national health insurers are better positioned than their smaller counterparts to succeed in the ACA exchanges.

As such national insurers have migrated away from exchange participation, they have in many instances been replaced by regional players, such as health plans associated with regional hospital systems, physician groups and faith-based organizations. Such entities generally do not have the same financial wherewithal as the large national insurance companies to successfully diversify risk or endure greater potential losses with respect to the exchange risk pools. As a result, many healthcare analysts and commentators have concluded that regional plans are ill-equipped to fully replace the large national insurance plans if the large national insurance plans continue to leave the state exchanges.

Notwithstanding the foregoing concerns regarding regional plan participation on the exchanges, Centene Corporation, a publicly-traded healthcare company that is the parent corporation of multiple state-based plans that participate in the state exchanges, has elected to expand its participation in 2018. Whether Centene Corporation succeeds with its expansion into more state ACA exchanges, and whether it chooses to further expand in future years, will be an important indicator of the health of the ACA health insurance exchanges in years to come.

"Repair and Encourage"

The remedy for stabilizing the exchanges is not overly complicated, and realizable, if the political will existed to accomplish what needs to be done.

A strong first step would be changing the conversation in Washington D.C. about the ACA – get rid of the "repeal and replace" mantra and instead make the conversation about "repair and encourage." The point is that the manner in which the political class is addressing healthcare and the ACA is toxic, and the result is driving the insurance companies away from participation. A change in tone from our elected leaders would probably do remarkable good in stabilizing the state insurance exchanges over time.

In addition to calming the political dialogue regarding the ACA, for 2018 (ahead of the 2019 open enrollment period), we propose some specific policies that we think would help encourage participation by the large, national insurance companies in the exchanges in 2019 and beyond:

  • The judicial branch needs to resolve, ideally favorably, whether CSRs will continue.
  • The individual mandate needs to be strengthened by increasing the applicable tax penalty and more vigorously pursuing enforcement.
  • Congress should consider incentives, whether tax-based or otherwise, to specifically encourage the large, national insurance companies to increase participation on the exchanges.

In the current political climate, such dedicated action seems unlikely, but the political winds may yet shift and blow the health insurers safely home to the exchanges.

*Samuel Gilkeson is a Law Clerk at Sheppard Mullin in the firm's Century City office.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
15 Nov 2018, Other, San Diego, United States

The University of San Diego's Center for Cyber Security Engineering and Technology will host this upcoming Symposium in Cyber Law, Risk and Policy to be held on the beautiful USD campus.

15 Nov 2018, Speaking Engagement, San Francisco, United States

EMPOWERED WOMEN MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Give back to your community and change a life with Sheppard Mullin’s Women Lawyers Group

16 Nov 2018, Other, Los Angeles, United States

Sheppard Mullin partner Jonathan Aronie will speak on “Careers in White Collar Practice and Corporate Compliance” panel at Duke Law.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions