In 68 localities, Anthem now will offer individual plans sold both on and off of the federally operated online health marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act to expand access to health insurance.
The national insurer in August said it would stop selling plans on Virginia's individual insurance exchange in 2018, a move that would have potentially left consumers in 63 cities and counties without any individual insurance options.
Anthem had earlier said it would exit Virginia entirely next year, along with rivals Aetna Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc.
Anthem's return to rural areas and counties that were bare is good news, said Doug Gray, executive director of the Virginia Association of Health Plans. This left most localities in the northern Shenandoah Valley without any options to purchase an Affordable Care Act plan during the upcoming open enrollment period, which runs from November 1 to December 15. "Since learning that 63 counties and cities in Virginia would not have access to individual health plans, Anthem has been engaged in further evaluation and discussion with regulators to ensure that no bare counties or cities exist in the state", the insurer said in a statement.
"I am appreciative that Anthem reentered the market, ensuring that Southwest Virginians will have an option to purchase health insurance in 2018", Congressman Morgan Griffith said.
In the weeks that followed, Optima said it would not offer plans, effectively leaving people in the region without marketplace health insurance coverage.
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During the most recent open enrollment period, more than 360,000 Virginians signed up for health insurance with the state marketplace.
"I want to communicate to private insurance companies that we're not going to tolerate bare counties and we will provide an option ... that will be very, very challenging to the insurance industry as we know it", Kaine said.
Frederick County had 3,673 Affordable Care Act enrollments in 2016, according to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The most recent change came from Optima Health, which made a decision to offer fewer plans than in 2017 after previously saying it would offer plans in every state.
Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine were also meeting with the insurers. Insurers have said that they have suffered significant losses by participating in the exchanges and they have said too much uncertainty is ahead in terms of what Congress will do to change the law and whether the Trump administration will make payments to insurers, known as cost-sharing reduction payments.
"It's time for the Trump administration to stop their efforts to sabotage and destabilize the markets, which resulted in fewer choices and higher premiums for 2018". The subsidies help reduce co-payments and deductibles for Affordable Care Act enrollees.