Blumenthal Urges UnitedHealthcare to Continue Participation in ACA Exchanges

(Hartford, CT) – In a letter to UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen Hemsley, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today urged the company to continue its participation in the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Earlier this month, UnitedHealthcare announced it would scale back marketing of its exchange plans for 2016, and would consider leaving the exchanges fully in 2017.

Competition in the Marketplace remains strong, ensuring consumer choice and affordable prices. As with any new market, changes and adjustments are expected in the early years, indeed – short term losses are not unlikely. Other insurers have stated that the Marketplace will stabilize and remain a reliable source of coverage for millions of Americans. I ask that UnitedHealthcare continue participating in the Marketplace and offer affordable plans for millions of Americans,” Blumenthal states in the letter.

Full text of the letter follows:

December 15, 2015

Dear Mr. Hemsley:

I am writing today to express deep disappointment in UnitedHealthcare’s announcement that it is reconsidering its participation in the Health Insurance Marketplace (the Marketplace) created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I urge UnitedHealthcare (UHC) to continue selling affordable health care coverage in the Marketplace in 2017 and work to provide consumers with more health insurance options. 

Recently, UHC stated that it would continue selling insurance plans for 2016, but would suspend marketing. The company subsequently announced that they will stop paying commissions for insurance policies offered through the exchanges beginning January 1, 2016, a move experts say signals a retreat from the public health exchanges.[1] I hope that the experts are wrong and that UHC will find a way to continue selling its policies on the Marketplace in 2017 and in the future.

Thanks to the ACA, many Americans and their families have access to affordable health insurance for the first time. Today, more than 10 million people have enrolled in coverage nationwide, including over 700,000 Connecticut residents. Due to implementation of the ACA, Connecticut’s uninsured rate dropped by 50 percent. Most importantly, the ACA is helping our country invest in prevention to keep citizens healthier and reduce astronomical health care costs.

The number of insurers participating in the ACA-created Marketplace has grown in 2016 and other large health insurers have voiced optimism about the prospects of the Marketplace. Anthem, for example, reaffirmed its participation in the ACA exchanges.  Joseph R. Swedish, President and Chief Executive Officer of Anthem stated, “For more than 75 years, Anthem has helped individuals to access and finance quality healthcare. Anthem remains committed to enhancing access to high quality, affordable healthcare for all of our members inside and outside of the insurance exchanges and continuing our dialogue with policymakers and regulators regarding how we can improve the stability of the individual market.”[2]

Because of strong competition, the Marketplace offer consumers significant choice among plans and networks, while also guaranteeing that all plans meet network adequacy requirements. On average, exchange consumers can choose from 5 issuers for 2016 coverage, just as they could for 2015 coverage. Nearly 9 out of 10 consumers returning to the Marketplace will be able to choose from 3 or more issuers for 2016 coverage, as well as a wide range of plans.[3]

Competition in the Marketplace remains strong, ensuring consumer choice and affordable prices. As with any new market, changes and adjustments are expected in the early years, indeed – short term losses are not unlikely. Other insurers have stated that the Marketplace will stabilize and remain a reliable source of coverage for millions of Americans. I ask that UnitedHealthcare continue participating in the Marketplace and offer affordable plans for millions of Americans.

Sincerely,

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