- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - One of Arizona’s largest health care insurers is leaving the state’s Affordable Care Act marketplace, a move that would reduce or eliminate options in rural counties.

UnitedHealthcare told state officials that it won’t sell individual plans to residents next year, the Arizona Republic reported (https://bit.ly/1rkSClc ).

The losses are “not really something that are sustainable,” according to Jeff Stelnik, Blue Cross Blue Shield senior vice president of strategy.

“We have to look county by county and make sure it makes sense to offer a product going forward,” he said.

The exit of both companies could leave residents in some rural counties without a way to get subsidized health insurance.

“The smaller overall market size and shorter-term, higher-risk profile within this market segment continue to suggest we cannot broadly serve it on an effective and sustained basis,” said UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen Hemsley in an earnings conference call Tuesday. “Next year, we will remain in only a handful of states, and we will not carry financial exposure from exchanges into 2017.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield and UnitedHealthcare’s All Savers are the only marketplace options in eight Arizona counties where more than 30,000 people chose a plan.

The Arizona Department of Insurance says insurers must file proposals for their 2017 plans by May 11.

“My concern is that rural Arizona is left with too few choices,” said Kim VanPelt of Vitalyst Health Foundation.

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Information from: The Arizona Republic, https://www.azcentral.com

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