All of US now has at least 1 ACA insurer for 2018

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 - Ohio

The last county at risk of having no insurers offering plans on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange now has coverage, with CareSource stepping in to sell plans in Paulding County, Ohio.

The rural county, which had 334 exchange enrollees this year, was one of many to be affected by Anthem scaling back its ACA participation. The number of potentially bare counties stood at 40 less than a month ago and had been as high as 82, with CareSource and Centene stepping in to cover 55 of those counties. CareSource had previously decided to expand coverage to eight other Ohio counties at risk of having no marketplace insurers.

“The marketplace provides vital healthcare coverage to more than 10.3 million Americans and we want to be a resource for consumers left without options,” CareSource President and CEO Pamela Morris said in a statement. “Our decision to offer coverage in the bare counties speaks to our mission and commitment to the Marketplace and serving those who are in need of healthcare coverage.”

Insurers could still leave the market, as contracts to offer coverage on the federal Healthcare.gov exchange don’t have to be signed until late September. While all counties are now projected to have at least one insurer, customers in 1,478 counties will be limited to just a single choice in carrier, according to CMS. Eight states—Alabama, Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming—could be limited to a single marketplace insurer statewide.

Ohio’s insurance director, Jillian Froment, said finding insurers for bare counties in 2018 was “a temporary solution,” and encouraged federal lawmakers to find ways to stabilize the ACA markets.

“Beyond that, insurers are still looking for predictability in the health insurance market. Now is the time for Congress to work on reforms that will strengthen our health insurance markets in ways that improve access and affordability, she said.