Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

UnitedHealthcare pulling out of Md. health exchange

UnitedHealthcare, the nation’s largest insurer, won’t be selling plans on Maryland’s individual health insurance exchange next year, but officials don’t expect that decision to significantly impact the state’s overall health insurance market.

“Any carrier leaving the market is unfavorable,” state Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer Jr. told The Daily Record Wednesday. “However, the impact to Maryland is going to be less significant than in other markets around the country.”

The carrier currently offers plans through its UnitedHealthcare of the Mid-Atlantic and All Savers brands, but those only make up about 1 percent of the individual market, according to the Maryland Insurance Administration.

CareFirst has 94 percent of the individual market, while Kaiser Permanente has 3 percent, according to the insurance administration.

Parent company UnitedHealth announced its plans to pull out of most of the individual marketplaces, or exchanges, established under the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday. This year, it participated in the ACA marketplaces in 34 states.

“It’s not a surprise,” Redmer said, adding that the insurer has been talking about pulling out of the individual marketplaces for several months because it wasn’t performing as well as it hoped. It had not raised specific concerns about Maryland.

“It is disappointing we’re one of them,” Redmer said. “More competition is better.”

Nonetheless, the state expects that a healthy number of carriers will offer insurance plans on the individual market next year, Redmer said.

“Maryland, relatively speaking, has a good amount of carriers and a competitive marketplace,” he said.

Nationwide, UnitedHealth plans are not often among the lower-cost options. The company’s decision to leave the marketplaces will likely have only a modest impact on premiums, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.