UnitedHealth to leave Iowa ACA marketplace

The approximately 9,000 Iowans who purchased UnitedHealth policies on the Affordable Care Act exchanges are out of luck for next year, as the Minnetonka, Minn.-based insurer will not sell policies in the state for 2017, according to The Des Moines Register.

Just last week, UnitedHealth announced its plans to exit most state exchanges — aside from a "handful" — in 2017. In addition to leaving Iowa, the insurer has said it plans to depart from the exchanges in Michigan, Arkansas, Georgia and Connecticut.

Despite UnitedHealth's planned departure, Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield, the dominant insurer in Iowa, recently confirmed its plans to sell policies on the ACA exchanges after previously declining to do so. "Although other carriers are choosing to exit this distribution channel, we believe that this is a critical time for us to be on the exchange as our members seek access to subsidies to help reduce the cost of their health insurance premiums for themselves and their families," wrote Wellmark spokeswoman Traci McBee in an email, according to the report.

UnitedHealth's exit will not affect its participation in Iowa's Medicaid program. The state hired UnitedHealth and two other insurers — AmeriHealth Caritas Iowa and Amerigroup Iowa — to manage its $5 billion Medicaid program, a plan that went into effect April 1.

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