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Insurer Aetna to drop out of Obamacare in Arizona

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — Health care provider Aetna announced it was leaving the Affordable Care Act’s public exchange in Arizona, a move that could negatively affect Pinal County.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the nation’s third-largest insurer said it planned to cut back exchange participation to four states in 2017. That could leave Pinal County without access to exchange plans.

Pinal is the third-most populous county in Arizona behind Maricopa and Pima.

Aetna is the nation’s third-largest insurer and said it was withdrawing from Obamacare in 10 other states. This year 15 states participated in its federal public exchanges.

The exchanges have helped millions of people gain health coverage, most with help from income-based tax credits. But insurers said this relatively small slice of business has generated huge losses since they started paying claims in 2014.

The insurer’s late Monday announcement comes after UnitedHealth and Humana detailed their own exchange pull backs for 2017 and after more than a dozen nonprofit insurance co-ops have shut down in the past couple years.

UnitedHealth also pulled out of the Affordable Care Act in Arizona.

“It’s a concern for us,” Stephen Briggs of the Arizona Department of Insurance told the Journal. He added the agency couldn’t force an insurer to offer a plan.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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