On Wednesday Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City announced the company’s decision to “not offer or renew individual Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans”–a.k.a. “Obamacare”–in the company’s 32-county service area in Kansas and Missouri for 2018.
“Through 2016, we have lost more than $100 million,”said Danette Wilson, President and CEO of Blue KC. “This is unsustainable for our company. We have a responsibility to our members and the greater community to remain stable and secure, and the uncertain direction of this market is a barrier to our continued participation.” The withdrawal will affect some 67,000 people.
More troubling for the dispossessed 67,000 is that the company was the only insurer offering Obamacare plans in 25 of the 32 counties, all of them in western Missouri. “Somebody is going to have to figure something out because there aren’t going to be [any insurers],” Brendan Hurley told KCUR. Hurley is an advisor at Insurance & Benefits Group in Pettis County, Missouri.
Just last month AOL News took President Donald Trump to task for claiming that Obamacare was in a “death spiral.” AOL countered by citing a Standard & Poor’s report that claimed the “ACA individual market is not in a ‘death spiral.'” One reason for the guarded optimism was the role Blue Cross Blue Shield plays as “last man standing.” In western Missouri no man is now standing.
In the six weeks following that report’s publication Aetna pulled out of the Obamacare insurance exchange in Virginia. President Trump responded on Twitter, “Death spiral.” When Humana announced plans to withdraw next year, the president tweeted, “Obamacare continues to fail. Humana to pull out in 2018. Will repeal, replace & save healthcare for ALL Americans.”
Letting no opportunity go unrealized to bash the president, the New York Times claimed that these long predicted failures can be traced, in no small part, to the fact that “the Trump administration and Congress are rattling the markets.” It is hard, of course, to undo a former president’s signature accomplishment, such as it was, without pointing out the reason why one is undoing it.
If the New York Times refuses to see why insurers are fleeing the market, its reporters might call Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City. When the Clinton campaign was preparing its balloon launch at the Javits Center, the air had long since gone out of the Obamacare bubble.