Nearly 19,000 in Missouri could be stranded after insurer pulls out of Obamacare

Posted at 4:49 PM, May 24, 2017

Here we go again.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is the latest insurer to announce it is withdrawing from Obamacare next year, citing big losses and uncertainty. The move would leave nearly 19,000 residents in Western Missouri without a coverage option unless another carrier steps in.

The company has roughly 67,000 policyholders in the 32 counties it services in Missouri and Kansas, mainly in the Kansas City area. It said that it's lost more than $100 million on Obamacare plans in the three years since the exchanges opened.

"Since 2014, we've expended significant resources to offer individual ACA plans to increase access to quality healthcare coverage for the Kansas City community," Danette Wilson, the insurer's CEO, said in a press release. "This is unsustainable for our company. We have a responsibility to our members and the greater community to remain stable and secure, and the uncertain direction of this market is a barrier to our continued participation."

Blue Cross of Kansas City, which will stop selling individual policies both on and off the Obamacare exchange, joins a growing list of other insurers that are abandoning the marketplace. Humana and Aetna said they are pulling out of the remaining markets where they are selling policies this year. Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield said it will not participate in the Iowa exchange next year.

More troublesome about Blue Cross of Kansas City's move is that Blue Cross companies have traditionally been the go-to insurer in the individual market. Earlier this month, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee agreed earlier this month to enter the Knoxville area, where roughly 40,000 Humana policyholders would have been left high and dry.