Anthem pulls plans from Ohio health care exchange

FILE - This Dec. 3, 2014, file photo, shows the Anthem logo at the company's corporate headquarters in Indianapolis. Aetna Inc. and the Blue Cross-Blue Shield carrier Anthem Inc. each reaffirmed on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015 their 2015 earnings forecasts. They also said their commercial business has developed as expected through October. That includes insurance sold on the exchanges, a key component in the Affordable Care Act's push to expand insurance coverage.(AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — 10,500 people without health insurance. That’s the number of Ohioans who could lose their health plans in 2018. Tuesday, Anthem announced it is pulling out of the healthcare exchange in Ohio —- leaving consumers in 18 counties unable to buy insurance on the system created under the Affordable Care Act.

The Ohio Department of Insurance said based on preliminary filing submissions made to ODI, Anthem’s reductions across the state will leave at least 18 counties with no insurer in 2018. Those 18 counties are; Coshocton, Crawford, Guernsey, Hancock, Harrison, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Knox, Lawrence, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Paulding, Perry, Van Wert, Vinton, Wyandot. In those counties, Anthem is the currently only option for people who have insurance through the ACA.

After nearly two decades without health insurance, Lori Gum finally got insured after the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2013.

“I went 18 years without insurance. So, the marketplace was the first time I’d had insurance in a very long time,” said Gum.

Gum said getting covered was life-changing.

For the past four years, she’s helped hundreds of others enroll for health benefits through Stonewall Columbus as an Affordable Care Act Certified Application Counselor. She said for Anthem to leave the ACA insurance marketplace is devastating.

“I mean here’s the truth, if people cannot get the health care, the basic remedial health care they need, some of them will die, and that is an absolute truth,” said Gum.

In a statement, Anthem said its withdrawal is a difficult decision. It called the market volatile, and cited, “continual changes in federal operations, rules and guidance” and a, “lack of certainty of funding” as reasons for pulling out.

Gum said she’s lucky. She got private insurance after her employer started offering it in January.

But, said that’s just not an option for so many others.

“It’s frightening, I mean it really is frightening and it’s really sad that so much of our population we normalize that fright,” said Gum.

The Ohio Department of Insurance said Congressional action is needed to restore stability in the marketplace. It said it is looking for options to help those 10,000 Ohioans who will be uninsured under the ACA come 2018.

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