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Nation’s Largest Health Insurer Says Greater Commitment to Obamacare Was a Mistake

By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large

UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen Hemsley has declared that the company made a poor decision when it ventured further this year into the various, state-based, public insurance exchanges that exist largely to serve the Affordable Care Act.

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UnitedHealth sold coverage on just four exchanges in 2014, but upped that to 24 exchanges for 2015. The larger embrace of the ACA, overall, has caused the company to suffer substantial financial losses this year, significant enough that it has had to adjust its earnings forecast downward.

At this point, Hemsley is undecided about whether UnitedHealth will even participate in selling coverage through the exchanges in 2017. That is a decision the company plans to make some time next year. However, Hemlsey is quick to say that whatever the company decides about 2017, any lowering of its involvement with the ACA and the exchanges will not be permanent. In his opinion, the real problem is that the market “experience” has yet to fully “develop,” and that once it does, it will be financially safer for companies like UnitedHealth to have greater exposure.

It shall be interesting to see how much more positively the functionality of Obamacare actually does evolve on behalf of both consumer and insurer; in addition to insurers complaining about enormous financial losses, large numbers of Americans are paying for coverage that they cannot really afford to use, given the high deductibles attached to most policies.