There Will Be Zero Counties Without Obamacare Insurers in 2018

While Kevin’s on vacation, we’ve invited other Mother Jones writers to contribute posts.

As Republicans have tried to rip apart Obamacare this year, one of their most frequent rhetorical strategies has been highlighting areas of the country where there might be zero insurance plans sold on the insurance exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act. 

That threat was mostly overhyped. In various counties around the country, after insurance companies pulled out, other insurers quickly stepped in to fill the void. But last week an insurance company suddenly pulled out of Virginia, leaving 48 counties and 73,000 Obamacare participants without out an insurance option. That would have been a big deal! And unlike past insurance company announcements, this one came late in the process, leaving the state little time to correct the problem before 2018 open enrollment starts in November.

But those fears proved misplaced. Virginia’s governor announced Friday that Anthem—which earlier this year announced it would pull out of Virginia—would step back in and fill the state’s gaps.

White House officials have regularly trumpeted news reports about insurance companies pulling out of markets. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the White House to celebrate the latest news that there will be no bare counties next year.