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Aetna Follows Wellmark's Lead, Will Exit Iowa Insurance Exchange In 2018

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Iowa will soon have only two insurance carriers providing individual healthcare policies. Connecticut-based Aetna has become the second company this week to announce it will stop selling insurance policies on Iowa’s public exchange in January 2018.

Earlier this week the Iowa Insurance Commission announced that Wellmark would also no longer provide individual plans in Iowa. Wellmark says rising costs are causing its departure. Aetna cites financial risk and an uncertain market outlook for its decision to exit.

The exchange was established as part of the Affordable Care Act, which penalizes people for being uninsured through a tax.

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*Insurance carriers have until June 19, 2017 to decide whether to sell individual insurance policies in 2018.

"I’m very concerned about the stability of the market. Some of the instability is a result of the fact that the federal government has been unable to be responsible to the troubles that we’re facing," says Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen. "Congress needs to act."

In the absence of Aetna and Wellmark, Iowa has only two insurers providing individual policies. Minnesota-based Medica and Wisconsin based-Gundersen both have until this summer to decide if they'll continue participation in Iowa's individual insurance exchange.

Medica provides policies for the entire state, but Gundersen only offers coverage to people living in Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties. 

Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter.