UnitedHealth Group Inc., the nation’s largest health insurer which last year said it might withdraw from the Obamacare insurance exchanges, this week increased projected 2016 Affordable Care Act (ACA) losses from $400 million to $500 million.

Humana Inc. also disclosed that it was setting up a “premium deficiency reserve” for its anticipated 2016 ACA losses.

Aetna Inc. recently revealed losses on its exchange business in 2015 but said it hoped for “mid-single-digit” profits in 2016.

Obamacare represents just a fraction of UnitedHealth’s business, and the company still projects $7.60 to $7.80 in per-share earnings for 2016 on $180 billion in revenue.

Meanwhile, Kevin Counihan, health insurance marketplace CEO, yesterday moved to address one of the insurers’ pet peeves — that consumers were waiting until they got sick to purchase insurance on the exchanges using special enrollment periods (SEPs). Counihan announced the elimination of seven SEP categories (see blog post).

The CEO also explained:

While there will continue to be special enrollment periods for people who lose coverage mid-year or experience other life changes, this channel for enrollment will not be available for the vast majority of consumers. For example, special enrollment periods are not allowed for people who choose to remain uninsured and then decide they need health insurance when they get sick.  Consumers who do not currently have other health insurance coverage should enroll through the Marketplace now during these last two weeks of Open Enrollment, to make sure they have coverage if they get sick and to avoid the tax penalty.

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