While open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act this year kept pace with last year, the number of insurers offering coverage in the market is down, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
In data collected by CMS on risk adjustment, the agency lists 700 insurers in the individual market. Last year, there were 2,400.
CMS released data showing many counties in the country having just one insurer for 2018.
In July, CMS announced 141 individual market qualified health plan issuers submitted initial applications to offer coverage on the federal exchange in 2018, compared to 227 ithe year before, a 38 percent drop in filings. This was further proof that insurers were fleeing the exchanges and that the ACA was failing, said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.
ACA enrollment of 8.7 million consumers this year is about 500,000 short of the 9.2 million who selected plans last year. During each week of open enrollment, until the period closed on Dec. 15, the signup numbers kept pace with that of last year.
Enrollment suffered from an open enrollment period that was a month shorter than last year, a 90 percent cut in federal promotional dollars and reduced funding for Navigator organizations that help consumers to enroll.
On the insurance side, numerous payers left the ACA market citing financial losses and instability. The Trump Administration cut off cost-sharing reduction funds that allowed insurers to give lower income beneficiaries a break on deductibles and out-of-pocket costs.
A Maine co-op insurer has sued the federal government over cutting funds it said must legally be paid under the ACA.
Despite a lack of stability in the ACA and GOP attempts to repeal the law, a Kaiser Family Foundation report this month showed that insurer financial performance worsened in 2014 and 2015, but showed signs of improving in 2016 and stabilizing in 2017 as insurers began to regain profitability.