Tens of thousands of consumers who had faced the possibility of having no option to buy health insurance on the individual market exchange in Virginia will face hefty hikes on their premiums.
An estimated 70,000 people in Virginia, all living in potential so-called "bare" counties, were at risk of having no health care provider. It was the last state at risk of having counties in that position.
At the 11th hour, insurance company Anthem said it would offer insurance, but at a steep price, with increases of up to 64 percent, according to local reports.
Politicians in the state welcomed the fact that individuals will have access to insurance, but differ over why and how the situation came to pass.
U.S. Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) blames the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, for what he describes as the "serious volatility in the individual insurance market."
"This fall I have heard from multiple constituents expressing concern about their rapidly rising premiums and deductibles," Brat told Patient Daily.
"I support repealing Obamacare because I believe we need to bring more free market principles to our health care system," Brat added.
Brat advocates more choice and competition in the market as the only way to "even begin the bend the cost curve down," he said.
"More federal spending or bailouts for insurance companies will not fix the problem in the long run – yet, so far, that’s the only solution I have heard from my friends on the other side of the aisle. Virginians need fewer regulations and more choice,” Brat said.
Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA) in a joint statement welcomed the fact that Anthem is re-entering the state's individual health care exchange.
"This is welcome news for Virginians in rural communities who have been hit particularly hard by health care uncertainty," the senators said.
But they added, "It's time for the Trump administration to stop their efforts to sabotage and destabilize the markets, which resulted in fewer choices and higher premiums for 2018. We will continue to work in Congress with colleagues regardless of party to fix the existing Affordable Care Act to ensure a stable market, lower costs, and improve coverage.”
Anthem first announced it was pulling out of the Virginia market in early September, a move that would have led to more than 70,000 having no access to a health insurance provider.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that the company has asked to increase premiums up to 64 percent, but that prior to pulling out the market it proposed increases of 35 to 55 percent.
The company reversed course just ahead of the deadline for insurance companies to participate in the Affordable Care Act exchanges.