Competition on the Obamacare marketplaces will decline next year. There will be significantly more places in the country where customers have no choice of health insurance because just one company signed up to sell coverage.

This is the conclusion that health policy experts have increasingly gravitated toward in recent months and weeks, as major insurance companies have announced hundreds of millions of dollars in financial losses on the Obamacare marketplaces.

“Under any likely scenario, there will be less insurer participation in the exchanges in 2017 than there was in 2016,” says Michael Adelberg, a senior director at FaegreBD Consulting who previously worked in the Obama administration helping to manage the marketplaces’ launch.

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Humana is the latest health insurer to significantly pull back its participation selling subsidized individual coverage under the Affordable Care Act, announcing plans to scale back next year to “no more than 156 counties” across 11 states.

The decision means Humana will reduce its Obamacare geographic presence by nearly 1,200 counties from the 1,351 counties across 19 states where the insurer currently sells individual coverage on exchanges under the health law now. UnitedHealth Group is scaling back to three states and Aetna said this week it was evaluating its participation in 15 states and wouldn’t expand to new states next year.

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July has been rough for Obamacare’s non-profit co-op health plans. Four closed after running out of money — three in just one week. Just seven of the original 23 co-ops are still standing. Those seven all lost money last year — and may yet go out of business before the calendar turns to 2017.

All that failure has been pricey. Taxpayers are out $1.7 billion in federal loans that these co-ops will never pay back.

The co-ops stand out as perfect examples of how Obamacare’s idea of government-managed “competition” is doomed to fail.

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Aetna became the latest health insurer to cast doubt upon its future in the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges after it called off a planned expansion Tuesday and suggested it could abandon that market completely.

A departure by Aetna, the nations’ third-largest insurer, could further reduce the number of choices for customers and eventually push insurance prices higher. Competition by insurers is a key feature of the exchanges, designed to keep a lid on prices, but several insurers are abandoning them because they are losing enormous amounts of money.

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On Monday, Illinois citizens were jolted by a piercing pain in the wallet as federal officials unveiled proposed Obamacare insurance premium rates for 2017. Insurers plan to dial up rates as much as a heart-stopping 45 percent for those who buy plans on the Obamacare marketplace when open enrollment starts Nov. 1.

That means thousands of people will scramble for affordable insurance … and won’t find it.

Is this rate shock unforeseen? Not really. Rocketing Obamacare rate requests have become an annual rite of summer, as welcome as sunstroke.

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The latest rates for health insurance under Obamacare in New Hampshire range from a drop of less than a half-percent to nearly a 60 percent increase, depending on the insurer.

All insurers offering health plans in the exchange had to present their proposals by Monday for the year beginning Jan. 1.

The dominant health insurer, Anthem, had the lowest proposal — a decrease of four-tenths of 1 percent from the preferred provider organization for the “off exchange” population.

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A company that offers health insurance plans in New Hampshire under the Affordable Care Act is suing the federal government over a part of the health care law.

The lawsuit from Minuteman Health aims to block the current form of the federal Risk Adjustment program, which aims to stabilize the health care market by spreading the costs that come from covering sicker people among insurers with healthier clients.

CEO Tom Policelli says what’s actually happened is that health care co-ops like Minuteman pay millions to their larger competitors that offer more expensive plans.

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Health insurers have been taking a financial beating for the ages on ObamaCare, but Aetna was always more bullish than the rest of the industry—until now. The entitlement’s keenest corporate patron announced Tuesday that it is cancelling its ObamaCare expansion plans for 2017 and may withdraw altogether.

Aetna posted fabulous second-quarter earnings, though the exception is its Affordable Care Act line of business that the company expects will lose more than $300 million this year. Aetna runs ObamaCare plans in 15 states and planned to join another five exchanges.

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Aetna Inc., facing more than $300 million in losses from Affordable Care Act health plans this year, may exit Obamacare markets in some states as challenges to the health-care overhaul pile up.

While the health insurer has yet to leave any states in which it now sells Obamacare programs, Chief Executive Officer Mark Bertolini said Aetna is evaluating its participation by market and will start making decisions in coming weeks. The company, which covers 838,000 people through Obamacare, is halting a planned expansion of those offerings in new states for next year.

“We’ve got to be able to cover the costs associated with providing the care,” Bertolini said in an interview.

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Usually it’s a good thing that everything’s bigger in Texas, but that isn’t true when it comes to health-insurance premiums for Obamacare. Recent federal data show that Texas’ largest insurer on the Obamacare exchanges is seeking average premium increases of nearly 60 percent for 2017- among the highest hikes in the entire country.

As a result, at least 600,000 policyholders with Blue Cross Blue Shield may quickly find their insurance coverage is unaffordable.

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