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Anthem agrees to cover ‘bare’ Obamacare counties in Virginia

Joseph Swedish, chief executive officer of Anthem.

T.J. Kirkpatrick | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Joseph Swedish, chief executive officer of Anthem.

The health insurer Anthem on Friday agreed to sell Obamacare plans next year in the parts of Virginia that were at risk of having no insurers there.

Anthem’s move means that there are currently not any parts of the United States that lack at least one insurer willing to sell individual market health plans in 2018.

Last week, Virginia officials said there were 48 counties and 15 cities in that state expected to be bare as a result of Optima Health’s decision not to expand its footprint as much as it had earlier expected.

Anthem had announced in August that it would stop selling its Blue Cross Blue Shield Obamacare plans in all of Virginia. Two other large insurers, Aetna and UnitedHealthcare, previously said they would exit the Obamacare market there.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe said that Anthem’s partial reversal of its decision to leave the state would save lives.

Anthem in a statement said its “decision will positively impact up to 70,000 Virginians—many of whom would not have had access to important health care coverage.”

“Anthem will remain focused on developments in the individual marketplace and will continue to advocate for solutions that will stabilize the market and allow us to once again offer individual insurance coverage throughout the state of Virginia in the future,” the company said.

However, to date Anthem overall has announced plans to significantly scale back its Obamacare business in 2018 in nine of the 14 states where it currently sells such individual market plans.

Earlier this week, however, the company said it will continue to sell individual plans in all of Connecticut.

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