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Nebraska residents will be able to buy Obamacare next year after all

Posted June 15

Nebraska residents will not be shut out of Obamacare next year.

For a while, it looked like Nebraska might be the first state with no insurers on the Obamacare exchange in 2018. Only two insurers -- Aetna and Medica -- are participating this year. Aetna announced last month it was pulling out, while Medica voiced doubts about its continued participation.

But the Minnesota-based carrier announced Thursday night that it had filed to be on the Nebraska exchange next year.

"We have said all along that we are committed to the marketplaces where we currently provide coverage, and will continue to serve those communities whenever possible." said Geoff Bartsh, Medica's vice president of individual and family business. "With this filing, Medica is announcing its intention to offer health coverage to Nebraskans statewide in 2018."

Medica has yet to say whether it will offer policies in Iowa, where it is the last statewide carrier remaining. Aetna and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield pulled out of Iowa earlier this year.

Related: Aetna pulls out of another Obamacare market for 2018

Medica, however, said last month it will only sign up in Iowa if federal and state officials do more to provide a "stable market." This includes shielding the company from high-cost enrollees through a high-risk pool or reinsurance program and solidifying "the rules of the road."

"It is incumbent upon Medica to proceed with caution. That means without swift action by the state or Congress to provide stability to Iowa's individual insurance market, Medica will not be able to serve the citizens of Iowa in the manner and breadth that we do today," Bartsh said last month. "Our ability to stay in the Iowa insurance market in any capacity is in question at this point."

The deadline to file in Iowa is Monday.

Related: Aetna reverses course, files to offer Obamacare policies in Nevada

Several insurers are either withdrawing or downsizing their participation in Obamacare next year, with many citing the uncertainty over the health reform law's future. President Trump and congressional Republicans are in the midst of trying to repeal the law. In addition, the president has been non-committal about enforcing the individual mandate, which requires nearly all Americans to buy insurance or pay a penalty, and about continuing to pay cost-sharing subsidies, which insurers receive to reduce deductibles and co-pays.

These exits already mean that tens of thousands of enrollees in 47 counties will be left without of choice of insurers on their exchanges next year, unless another carrier steps in.

However, some insurers have agreed to expand their Obamacare presence next year. Centene announced this week it will offer plans in three more states, while Aetna signed up to be on Nevada's exchange.

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