Speed Reads

ObamaScare

The country's biggest insurer might bail on ObamaCare

Come 2017, there's a chance UnitedHealth Group will no longer be a part of ObamaCare. The nation's largest health insurer announced Thursday that, after taking into account losses of $275 million on plans sold through the Affordable Care Act exchanges, it would be slashing its 2016 earning projections and re-evaluating whether it would participate in the program in 2017. An estimated 550,000 people are currently enrolled in the insurer's exchange plans.

UnitedHealth's announcement marks a big change of heart for the company, which said just a month ago that it was optimistic about seeing "strikingly better performances on the insurance exchange business" in 2016.

Compare that to what UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley said Thursday: "In recent weeks, growth expectations for individual exchange participation have tempered industrywide, co-operatives have failed and market data has signaled higher risks and more difficulties while our own claims experience has deteriorated, so we are taking this proactive step."

The insurer has reduced its outlook for fourth-quarter earnings by $425 million. If UnitedHealth decides to bail come 2017, it would strike a major blow to ObamaCare.