The health insurance industry is bracing for the near certain end to the core coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the framework they've been operating under for the past six years.
The industry also is waiting to learn the fate of two multibillion-dollar mergers that could reduce competition and raise premiums in some markets. Court decisions in the Justice Department's lawsuits challenging proposed combinations of Aetna and Humana, and Anthem and Cigna, are expected to come in January.
President-elect Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers have promised to repeal the ACA as soon as possible. But insurance leaders worry a replacement for the law may take several years to put together. That uncertainty, coupled with the potential repeal of policies such as the individual mandate and cost-sharing subsidies for low-income exchange plan members, could prompt insurers to flee the marketplaces.
While consumers aren't likely to see big changes in their health coverage in 2017, the following year is another story. Without knowing what kind of replacement Republicans will enact, insurers will have a hard time setting rates for 2018 individual and small group plans, which are due in the spring.