September 27, 2017 / 4:23 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 2-Anthem will not sell individual Obamacare plans in Maine next year

(Adds Maine insurance bureau comment, background, share price)

By Bill Berkrot

Sept 27 (Reuters) - U.S. health insurer Anthem Inc said on Wednesday it will not offer individual Obamacare plans in Maine in 2018, citing uncertainty over government operations, including whether it will provide subsidies to reduce costs under the Affordable Care Act.

Anthem made its announcement a day after the U.S. Senate failed again to come up with enough votes to pass a plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), often referred to as Obamacare.

Insurers must sign government contracts detailing where they will offer 2018 coverage by midnight on Wednesday.

Multiple failed attempts by Congress to repeal or replace Obamacare and a lack of assurance from the U.S. government that it will continue to provide the cost-sharing subsidies mandated under the ACA have made it difficult for insurers to make coverage plans and set premium rates for individual plans for 2018.

A bipartisan attempt by Senators to come up with a plan to stabilize the Obamacare insurance markets for 2018 was derailed by the latest failed repeal-and-replace plan, known as Graham-Cassidy for its sponsors, Republican U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy.

As of last week, two other carriers besides Anthem were selling insurance in Maine, according to government data.

Judi Watters, spokeswoman for the Maine Bureau of Insurance, confirmed that no counties in the state will be left without health insurance coverage options.

Anthem had previously announced its intention to pare back 2018 Obamacare offerings in several states, including Nevada and Georgia.

Under Maine’s guaranteed renewal law, current individual members will be able to renew their health plan in 2018, Anthem said. However they will be offered a plan off the Obamacare exchange and will not be eligible to receive financial assistance or subsidies, which could make them unaffordable for many current customers.

Anthem said it will offer one off-exchange gold-level plan that will only be available in Aroostook, Hancock and Washington counties in Maine.

Anthem’s move does not affect people who have employer-based insurance or individuals enrolled in Medicare, the company said.

Anthem shares were up $1.29, or 0.7 percent, at $185.57 on the New York Stock Exchange in early afternoon trading. (Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli, Jeffrey Benkoe and Jonathan Oatis)

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