By Zack Buck
Following news last week that Aetna was pulling out of health care insurance exchange markets in eleven states, Pinal County, Arizona became the epicenter in the rapidly evolving and growing crisis facing the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges. Sandwiched between Phoenix and Tucson, Pinal County is home to about 400,000 residents, but no insurance companies; in short, Pinal County has been left without any insurance companies signed up to sell insurance on the exchange to its residents for 2017—becoming the “county that Obamacare forgot.”
Pinal County had nearly 10,000 citizens sign up on the exchange in 2016, but Aetna’s departure bookends a rough period for Pinal County residents. In addition to Aetna, the county has recently endured the departure of UnitedHealth Group, Humana, and a non-profit co-op from Arizona’s exchange. As a result, Pinal County is reportedly looking to other insurers who may be interested in selling on the exchange to its residents; in a bit of hopeful news, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona is said to be “re-evaluating where it will offer plans next year.”
But the crisis isn’t contained to Pinal County. Two states—Tennessee and Alaska—have been trying to avoid a similar fate.