The Richmond-based company of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in Virginia, the state’s largest insurer on Friday announced that more than 206,000 Virginians could lose their individual health insurance policies in from the federal exchange and individual market in 2018.


It cited “the shrinking and deteriorating individual market, as well as continual changes and uncertainty in federal operations, rules and guidance, including cost-sharing reduction subsidies and the restoration of taxes on fully insured coverage.”


Anthem’s decision follows Aetna’s announcement in May that it would exit the federally operated marketplace in Virginia for the Affordable Care Act in 2018.


Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jacqueline K. Cunningham called Anthem’s withdrawal “unwelcome news for many Virginia consumers”

and emphasized that the company would continue to offer insurance plans through employers, Medicare and Medicaid.


“There are still five insurers in Virginia’s marketplace — Optima, Kaiser, Piedmont, Cigna and CareFirst,” whose organization runs a federally funded health navigator system to help people find affordable insurance. “As of now, every locality in Virginia still has at least one company offering health plans through the marketplace,” which currently serves 360,000 Virginians.