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Humana to Exit Individual Insurance Markets in 8 States

Humana will exit eight of the 19 individual health insurance markets where it has sold Obamacare plans this year, the insurer announced Thursday — the same day the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to block its proposed merger with rival Aetna.

The company is still struggling to make a profit on the exchanges, according to its second quarter earnings guidance released Thursday. The company expects to offer individual plans in 156 counties across 11 states compared to the 1,351 counties in 19 states it has offered plans in the year, including 15 markets where it sold individual policies on the exchanges, according to a release.

Humana isn’t the first insurer to announce plans to withdraw from insurance markets ahead of the upcoming open enrollment period. UnitedHealth, the country’s largest insurer, also announced plans earlier this year to withdraw from most insurance markets.

The company reports that otherwise it is surpassing expected performance in other areas of its business, particularly because of its individual Medicare Advantage plans. The company raised its expected earnings for the current fiscal year.

While the company’s Medicare Advantage market is faring well, federal antitrust officials fear that competition would be limited if it is acquired by Aetna. Additionally, competition on the federal exchanges would be limited by both the Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna mergers, Bill Baer, principal deputy associate attorney general at the DOJ, said Thursday.

“These four companies have been among the most active in offering insurance through the exchanges,” Baer said. “I am talking about average Americans in these cities, many previously uninsured or underinsured, who are most vulnerable to increases in insurance premiums.  But that’s exactly the risk posed by these two mergers for consumers who today rely on the exchanges.”

Clarification: This article has been updated to clarify that Humana offers individual plans on Obamacare exchanges in 15 states.