Nearly 44,000 people in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura counties are losing their individual health insurance plans in 2018. Of those, just a little more than half receive subsidized insurance from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). (Group insurance is not affected.) Unless another carrier emerges, those consumers must look to Blue Shield as the only available health insurance option.
Last week, Anthem announced it would pull out of most of California’s individual markets. President Trump’s plan to dismantle the ACA has prompted insurance carriers throughout the nation to worry they won’t be able to rely on federal subsidies. “Unfortunately, uncertainty in the health insurance market does not provide the clarity and confidence we need to offer affordable coverage to our members in 2018,” Anthem executives said in a statement.
“This is not okay,” Santa Barbara Congressmember Salud Carbajal wrote in an email this week, urging people who have trouble during the open enrollment period, which begins on November 1, to contact his office. He expressed frustration that Trump’s threats to refuse to pay cost sharing reductions have destabilized insurance markets. This insecurity, he said, is expected to lead to higher premiums. Last week, Covered California — the state’s ACA vehicle — announced premiums are expected to increase by an average of 12.5 percent throughout the state.
Under the ACA, Sansum Clinic took on 7,000 new patients, according to company spokesperson Jill Fonte. She said that she didn’t know what other health insurance companies would be offering plans. “It’s unlikely we will know the answers to these questions right away,” she said in a statement. “Once we know what options are available, we will work with those plans to try to get a contract so that continuity of care will be preserved.”