Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia says it will soon be the only insurer on the Affordable Care Act exchange in most of the state.
Blue Cross says with Aetna's pullout earlier this month, it will be the sole insurer on the exchange in 96 Georgia counties next year. UnitedHealthcare and Cigna are also dropping out of the market, while Humana is significantly downsizing its footprint to just a few counties.
This year, all 159 counties had at least two providers offering plans.
Cindy Zeldin, who heads Georgians for a Healthy Future, says while most counties will have no choice among carriers in 2017, she doesn't think that's what's in store for the marketplace long term.
“This is still a market that's young, and it's changing and maturing,” Zeldin said. “And carriers seem to be moving in and out as they determine whether or not they want to be in long term.”
Zeldin says the Atlanta area will still see “pretty strong competition” among providers on the exchange. It's the rural parts of the state, particularly the south, she said, that won't see options.
The Georgia insurance commissioner's office recently approved a 21 percent rate hike for Blue Cross next year, but the federal government has the final say on the rate.