When Aetna Inc. announced that it would withdraw from three-quarters of the states where it offers Affordable Care Act exchange plans, the move wasn’t entirely unexpected: The company had signaled its woes early this month.
But the decision by one of the nation’s largest health insurers AET, +1.36% to withdraw from 11 of 15 state exchanges follows similar moves by UnitedHealth Group Inc. UNH, +0.48% , the largest U.S. health insurer, and Humana Inc. HUM, -0.28% , another large health insurer.
The string of bad news marks a tidal shift for the ACA. Where insurers, including Aetna, had once planned on exchange expansions next year, many are instead curtailing their coverage.
Aetna’s pared-down 2017 exchange participation “raises further questions about the long-term viability of the ACA marketplaces,” said Susquehanna analyst Chris Rigg.
Aetna explained the decision as a way to “limit our financial exposure moving forward,” after pretax losses of $200 million in the second quarter and losses totaling $430 million on individual products since January 2014. The company did not specify what portion of the losses was attributable to individual public plan offerings.