Aetna’s exit from exchange leaves St. Louis residents with fewer options

Aetna’s decision to gut its presence on the Affordable Care Act’s online insurance exchanges will mean fewer choices next year for residents of the St. Louis area — and there will be stark differences in those remaining options.

The move creates uncertainty in Missouri’s individual health insurance market, where Aetna is the biggest insurer.

Citing financial losses, the nation’s third-largest insurer announced Monday that it would slash its exchange-offered individual plans for 2017 to just four states from 15. As a result, Missouri residents won’t be able to buy Aetna plans next year on the website

Aetna will continue to sell individual plans in Missouri through local brokers, just not through the federal exchange.

Aetna’s departure next year will leave Missouri residents of the St. Louis area with only two insurer choices when shopping on Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield or Cigna.

The Missouri Department of Insurance said it was made aware of Aetna’s move late Monday. However, it declined to answer any other questions about the decision, pointing to a voter proposition passed in 2012 that bars the department from interacting with the federal marketplace.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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