UnitedHealth CEO: Participating in ACA exchanges was a 'bad decision'

UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen Hemsley defended the health insurer's possible exit from the Affordable Care Act exchanges in 2017 at an investor meeting in New York on Tuesday, according to a Bloomberg report.

In November, UnitedHealth lowered its profit estimate for 2015 and blamed an expected loss on selling individual policies on the ACA exchanges for the lower estimate. Based on those losses, the health insurer said it was weighing whether it will continue to offer individual coverage through the online ACA exchanges for 2017.

Regarding the company's decision to participate in the ACA's individual markets, Mr. Hemsley said, "It was a bad decision." UnitedHealth didn't participate in the ACA exchanges in year one, and in retrospect, "we should have stayed out longer," he said, according to the report.  

UnitedHealth said it is expecting more than half a billion dollars in losses on individual policies sold on the ACA exchanges in 2015 and 2016.

To minimize the increase of individual customers purchasing UnitedHealth plans on the exchanges, the health insurer said it has already started scaling back its marketing efforts for 2016.

More articles on payer issues:

Fitch: Health insurer margins feeling pressure from ACA exchange enrollees
UnitedHealth may exit ACA exchanges due to losses: 7 things to know
Leading health insurers collectively add 4.3M members in Q2

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