UnitedHealthcare, the nation's largest insurer, will exit Indiana's individual insurance marketplace next year.

Spokeswoman Maria Gordon Shydlo confirmed Tuesday the company will withdraw its offerings on the exchange, noting the changes will not impact the company's commercial or Medicare business in the state.

United announced in April it would be exiting most of the 34 Obamacare marketplaces it was operating in due to increasing financial losses. The company reportedly lost $475 million on exchange plans in 2015 and is set to eclipse that number this year. Even so, United made $1.6 billion in profit during the first three months of 2016.

However, a new player could absorb some of United's estimated 196,241 marketplace customers in the state. Aetna has filed with the Indiana Department of Insurance to enter the exchange next year, with a requested average premium lower than what any of its competitors are asking for.

A spokeswoman for the company said the company will decide whether to join the market and what plans it will offer if and when it gets state approval, which has to happen by Aug. 23.

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Jeff Sopko, an insurance agent in south-suburban Steger, Illinois, said United had been offering the only individual PPO, a plan that offers a wide network of providers, available to his Indiana customers.

"If you're undergoing some type of cancer or heart treatment at one of the Chicago hospitals, you'll no longer have any access to it," he said.

But he noted that Aetna's plans in Illinois generally have wide networks, so that potential newcomer to the market could be an option for United PPO customers.

Rates also tend to be higher in markets with less competition, so if United exits without another competitor stepping in that could mean higher premiums for Hoosiers who shop on the individual marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.


Health Reporter

Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.