UnitedHealth will leave Ky. next year, leaving much of the state with only one or two choices for health insurance on exchange

UnitedHealth Group Inc. won’t be participating in Kentucky’s individual insurance plans offered through the Affordable Care Act marketplace next year, which could leave about 20 percent of the state with just one insurer to choose from for next year and another 22 percent with only two choices, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Including Kentucky, this brings the number of states the health insurer is quitting next year to 26, Zachary Tracer reports for Bloomberg.

“The company plans to halt sales of individual plans in Kentucky for 2017, both inside and outside the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange, as well as the small-business exchange,” United said in a letter dated March 28 to the state’s insurance department, Tracer reports. Bloomberg noted that it obtained the letter through an open-records request.

United warned in November that this would likely happen after reporting that “low enrollment and high usage cost the company millions of dollars,” USA Today reported.

“UnitedHealthcare’s intent to withdraw from the market was not unexpected,” Doug Hogan, a spokesman for the state Public Protection Cabinet, which oversees the state’s insurance regulator, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg. “Insurers across the country have been losing hundreds of millions of dollars in the Obamacare exchanges and can no longer sustain such heavy financial losses.”

The administration of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is shutting down the state’s Kynect exchange and moving its 100,000 or so users to the federal exchange, but plans on that exchange are offered state by state.

Bloomberg says it has confirmed that United is leaving at least 26 of the 34 states where it sold 2016 coverage, but will continue to offer small-business plans off the exchange. New York and Nevada confirmed for Bloomberg that United plans to sell ACA plans in those states next year. The company has also filed plans to participate in Virginia.

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