COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Insurance has filed court papers to liquidate Westerville-based InHealth Mutual, a health insurance co-op that, according to Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, is the health coverage provider for some 2,000 Lima area policyholders.
InHealth Mutual was set up two years ago as one of the co-ops prescribed under the Affordable Care Act, designed to help increase competition for those looking for coverage through the ACA. However, after suffering net losses of $79 million in 2015 and $29 million so far this year, InHealth was left in an untenable position, according to Taylor.
“Based on the financial information that we have been looking at over the last couple of months that was provided to us by the company, we believe that they are no longer sustainable for the long term,” Taylor said. “Ohio law allows us to take certain actions to protect consumers, and this is the formal action where we ask for the right to liquidate the company. If they were going to be able to accept new enrollment next year, they would have had to ask for an approximate 60 percent increase on premiums.”
Taylor emphasized that those currently covered under InHealth will still have coverage through the end of the year, with claims already submitted to be covered either by InHealth’s remaining capital or through a guarantee fund administered by the state. However, policyholders are strongly encouraged to go to healthcare.gov to seek out a new provider so they would not lose any federal subsidies provided under the ACA. Any payments made toward a deductible will probably be lost, Taylor said.
“I think that’s something they should at least take a look at,” Taylor said.
Out of the 23 co-ops that were created under the ACA, only 10 are still in existence, Taylor said, a trend she credits to flaws in the ACA.
“The insurance industry requires a lot of capital, not just to be organized but also to continue to operate and pay claims,” she said. “Because of the way the ACA was written, these companies could not seek private capital, so their cash came from loans from the federal government, and then any excess revenue they would have” would go to pay those.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, also criticized the ACA in the wake of this liquidation.
“The failed Obamacare co-ops were a costly experiment gone wrong, and now middle-class Ohioans are getting hurt,” he said.
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.