Health care provider Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield announced in a news release Friday afternoon that the company will stop offering insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act government-run exchange in 2018 to Missourians in 16 counties — including Boone — and the city of St. Louis.
People who already have individual or family health plans, transitional policies, employer-sponsored insurance or Medicare will not be affected by the change, the provider said in the release.
Two carriers pulled out of the marketplace in Missouri and other states last year, leaving Boone and most other counties in the state with just one provider for the exchange in 2017, according to previous Missourian reporting. With Aetna — which in Missouri goes by Coventry — and UnitedHealth gone, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield was the only carrier left that offered plans through the Affordable Care Act in Boone County.
In 2017, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield offered coverage through the marketplace for 84 counties and the city of St. Louis. Next year, that number drops to 68.
The carrier’s reduction leaves Barry, Boone, Christian, Franklin, Greene, Jasper, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lincoln, Newton, Saint Charles, Saint Francois, Saint Louis, Sainte Genevieve, Warren and Washington counties with one less health care provider through the marketplace.
Four of those counties, including Boone, had only one carrier providing Affordable Care Act plans in 2017. However, the other three — Barry, Christian and Lawrence — will still have at least one health insurer in 2018. Centene, a carrier based in Missouri, announced in a June news release that it would cover marketplace plans next year for those three counties and 37 others.
This is not the first scaleback in Missouri from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City announced in May that it would not offer or renew individual Affordable Care Act plans in 2018. According to the release, the change affected 32 counties across Kansas and Missouri, some of which will be covered by Centene’s expansion. Centene did not respond Friday afternoon about any plans to provide coverage for Boone.
"I hope that there would be an insurer that would come into these counties," said Randy Rodgers, a program manager at the Columbia-based health care consulting firm Primaris.
Rodgers said he was awaiting further guidance from the Missouri Foundation for Health about the implications of the carrier change. Cover Missouri, a health care advocacy group run through the foundation, declined to comment Friday.
In the counties where Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield is pulling out, the provider will not offer any plans, on or off the exchange. On-exchange plans are provided through the Affordable Care Act, while off-exchange plans are not available through the marketplace.
The health insurance marketplace was started when the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. Nearly 250,000 Missouri residents signed up for care through the program’s open enrollment this year, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.