Health Insurance Providers Face Tough Decisions Amid ACA Uncertainties

May 23, 2017

Credit AP Photo / Andrew Harnik

Until this week, Virginia’s marketplace for subsidized health-insurance has been relatively healthy, with seven providers offering plans next year in all parts of the state. But as Michael Pope reports, that all could change in the next few weeks.

It’s been a rough week for the Affordable Care Act. That’s because the Trump administration and congressional Republicans are asking the courts to postpone rulings on a challenge to cost-sharing subsidies. Those are the government funds used to help low-income Virginians pay for deductibles and co-pays. Sabrina Corlette at Georgetown University says providers have spent years making investments to serve these markets, ramping up to meet the needs of people who now have health insurance for the first time.

“And now they are looking at those investment and all the work they’ve done to build this market potentially be for naught. So it’s putting insurance companies in a real tough spot.”

Virginia legal expert Rich Kelsey says the battle may end up taking a back seat to the art of the deal.

“I think they believe they are going to get a deal on health care in the Senate, and to do that they want to continue the cost subsidies, which are already in the budget, in order not to inflame opposition against any deal.”

For the seven providers who still plan on offering services next year, the next few weeks are critical. August is the deadline for finalizing rates and plans. That means that any of these companies that want to drop out of the marketplace because of instability in Washington have only a few weeks to make a decision.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.