Maryland: UnitedHealthcare decides to jump back into the ACA market after all.

Note: I've been distracted by my county-level COVID19 tracking project for the past couple of weeks, so I'm posting a series of entries on various ACA/healthcare policy developments which I've missed along the way.

Back in 2016, many health insurers which had been losing money hand over fist on the ACA individual market (in spite of many making record profits in other divisions) decided to bail on the ACA market entirely. Of these, the biggest shocks to the system were Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare, each of which pulled out of multiple states, and UHC bailing was the biggest blow of all:

Back in mid-April, I posted the UnitedHealthcare State Dropout Odometer, which tracked exactly which of the 34 states which UnitedHealthcare is currently offering individual market policies in this year they'd drop out of for 2017. Instead of simply stating "we're sticking around in these states and dropping out of the rest", United decided to dole the pain out gradually, with states announcing their departure one by one over several weeks. For quite awhile, I knew that they were sticking around Nevada, New York and Virginia, with another half-dozen states in limbo status.

UHC actually pulled out of even more states, and for the past few years have only been offering ACA policies in New York, Nevada and Massachusetts.

Well, five years later that's apparently set to change:

Governor Hogan Announces UnitedHealthcare Files to Enter Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Individual Market

ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan today announced that national health insurer UnitedHealthcare has filed to offer individual health plans through Maryland Health Connection in 2021.

“We are very pleased United has chosen to enter Maryland’s individual market,” said Governor Hogan. “During this public health crisis, it’s more important than ever for Marylanders to have access to a robust marketplace with different options to suit their needs.”

Currently, two insurers – CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and Kaiser Permanente – offer individual market health plans through the Maryland marketplace.

“UnitedHealthcare intends to offer individual plans in 2021 that provide strong coverage options for those shopping on Maryland Health Connection,” said Krista Nelson, senior vice president, UnitedHealthcare. “We look forward to working with the State of Maryland to help individuals get access to health care coverage that meets their care needs.”

The press release also noted an update on Maryland's #COVID19 Special Enrollment Period data:

Nearly 159,000 people enrolled in private plans through the Maryland health insurance marketplace, Maryland Health Connection, during the initial 2020 open enrollment period. Nearly 29,000 people have since enrolled during a special coronavirus open enrollment period, running through June 15.

The last update on this put the total at around 21,500 people enrolling since 3/16/20, although that includes a combination of Medicaid enrollees as well as a few thousand who enrolled via the state's unique "EZ Enrollment" SEP. They don't provide a breakout here, but that's still an additional 7,500 Marylanders who've gotten covered one way or another.

“Under Governor Hogan’s leadership, Maryland has been successful in lowering premiums and strengthening the marketplace,” said Maryland Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer, Jr. “Another carrier entering the individual market is further proof that we’re moving in the right direction and have successfully stabilized the market.”

Maryland Health Benefit Exchange is a public corporation and independent unit of state government. It was established in 2011 in accordance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) and is responsible for the administration of Maryland Health Connection, an online marketplace where Maryland residents can compare and enroll in health insurance as well as determine eligibility for Medicaid or financial help with private plans.

“We are thrilled to have another insurance company entering the marketplace, so that Marylanders across the state will have more options to choose a health plan that works best for themselves and their families,” said Michele Eberle, executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.

UnitedHealthcare, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), provides health care coverage and benefits services across the United States.