Nebraska: Ugh. BCBS dropping out of the exchange

Today (Friday, Sept. 23) happens to be the deadline for insurance carriers to sign agreements with the federal government for participating in the exchange this Open Enrollment period (I'm not sure if today's deadline also applies to the state-based exchanges or not; they might be different). Until today, it looked as though there were going to be 3 carriers offering individual policies on the Nebraska exchange:

The figures compared 2016 and 2017 rates for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, Aetna Health Inc. and Medica, the three companies that will offer policies to Nebraskans on the exchange when open enrollment starts Nov. 1.

However, as commenter M E noted, it looks like BCBSNE decided to wait until literally the last minute (last hour, anyway) to change their minds:

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska said Friday it won’t sell individual health insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace next year because of continuing losses.

Blue Cross’ departure removes the state’s largest health insurer from the individual marketplace, leaving only Aetna and Medica Health to offer individual policies on the Nebraska’s exchange for 2017.

...As of this year, around 20,000 people out of Blue Cross of Nebraska’s 750,000 clients have individual exchange policies.

This is actually about 20% lower than the 25K I had previously estimated for BCBSNE, so in that sense it's not quite as bad, but obviously this isn't a good development.

...Martin said too often federal officials let people buy insurance just before they are due to receive an expensive health treatment and then drop their coverage immediately afterward. As a result, many of them pay no premiums when they are well, only when they are sick.

This is the continuation of the "How do you solve a problem like SEP-ia?" issue I wrote about quite a bit back in February. Somewhere around 8,000 people enroll every day via the exchanges during what's supposed to be the off-season. The question is whether or not significant numbers of these folks are making up excuses to enroll when they aren't supposed to be able to, and then dropping their policies like a bad habit once their surgery/treatment is out of the way.

Anyway, that's that. This actually doesn't impact the average Nebraska rate hikes, however, because BCBS's 39.9% request happened to be pretty much exactly the average to begin with.