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What happens if the exchanges collapse?

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Check out our Huffington Post column: 
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The exchanges have had a rocky history, beginning with the tough rollout in 2013. But after the first open enrollment period, the enrollment process was ironed out, and enrollment numbers continued to climb—most recently hitting 12.7 million enrollees for 2016.

But there have been other problems. Though enrollment has continued to be robust, sinking uninsured rates to historic lows, the demographics of enrollees have been less than desirable for insurers. The individual market has been older and sicker than carriers hoped, meaning enrollees are expensive to insure. On top of that, most carriers underpriced in the first few years of the marketplaces to gain market share, leading to steep losses.

As a result, UnitedHealthcare and Aetna announced this year that they would not participate on the exchanges for 2017 due to sustainability concerns. By pulling out of the marketplaces, competition in many counties around the country diminished. According to an investigation by Vox, there will be 687 counties with just one marketplace insurer in 2017.

These dynamics have led many to ask—are the marketplaces failing? In Tennessee, for example, insurance commissioner Julie Mix McPeak said the state’s exchange was “near collapse.”

Check out the full column hereIf you enjoyed this post, you may also like "Clinton and Trump on insurance competition."

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