It’s official — United HealthCare will not offer individual health insurance plans to Arizona residents in 2017.

To make matters worse, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona has just said they may not offer their Marketplace plans in some rural Arizona counties — and maybe not anywhere in Arizona — for 2017. This would be a dire situation for many Arizonans.
United HealthCare and Blue Cross are the only two health insurance companies that currently offer plans in all Arizona counties. With United HealthCare definitely no longer being an option and the possibility of Blue Cross exiting some rural counties — Cochise, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai and Yuma counties — there will be many Arizona residents who may find they will not be able to purchase any subsidized health insurance policy in 2017.

Jeff Stelnik, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s senior vice president of strategy, sales and marketing says “We have to look county by county and make sure it makes sense to offer a product going forward.” UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen Hemsley just said, “”Next year…we will not carry financial exposure from exchanges into 2017.” This apparently means that if your health insurance policy is from United HealthCare, you will be receiving a letter letting you know that your health insurance policy will be cancelled as of December 31, 2016.
The reason for these departures is simple — MONEY. Now that anyone that wants a policy can get one with no medical questions asked and all pre-existing conditions are covered, health insurance companies are losing money on their individual book of business. Blue Cross’s Stelnik said the average Blue Cross customer had medical claims of $267 per month before ObamaCare started. Now, the average claim is $659 per month — 250% more. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona said it lost $185 million on individual plans in 2014 and 2015, the first two years of the marketplace. No successful company can sustain losses like this without taking a hard look at all of its options.

We will keep you informed as we learn more about what Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona will end up doing to and for Arizona residents going forward. And if you are a current United HealthCare policy holder, you’ll absolutely need to make plans for a different policy when Open Enrollment starts up again in November. We here at Lehrman Group will do all we can to make the switch as painless as possible for you. We’re at (800) 600-9663.

Author: Tony Lehrman
Founded by Tony Lehrman in 1988, Lehrman Group serves the health insurance needs of individuals and families, small and large businesses, franchises, governments, municipalities and institutional clients throughout Arizona. Lehrman Group maintains leadership positions in the Arizona health insurance marketplace.