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Aetna pulls out of N.J.'s health exchange as enrollment date nears

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Aetna announced today that it's pulling out of New Jersey's health exchange, leaving only three insurers competing to sell coverage on the marketplace the federal government is launching Oct. 1.

The marketplace is where individuals and small businesses will buy government-subsidized health plans under the Affordable Care Act.

The decision leaves Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, AmeriHealth New Jersey and Health Republic Insurance of New Jersey — a new nonprofit cooperative insurance company created under the ACA — as the sole insurers serving the marketplace.

Aetna had announced its intention to participate in the exchange in May.

UnitedHealthcare and Cigna already have announced they won't participate in the marketplace this year, but would reconsider joining in 2015.

In a statement, Aetna's New Jersey market president, John Lawrence, said the insurer will retain its existing business in the state.

"We remain fully committed to the New Jersey market, where we presently serve over 1.1 million people, and we will continue to serve individual consumers in the off-exchange market, as well as small and large employers," Lawrence said.

"We are taking a measured, multiyear approach to exchanges, and we will continue to assess our ability to participate on New Jersey's exchange in 2015 and beyond."

Horizon issued a statement this afternoon reaffirming its commitment to the New Jersey exchange.

"Horizon is committed to New Jersey, and intends to participate in both the individual and small-business exchanges," spokesman Tom Vincz said.

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Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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