The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced that 141 individual market qualified health plan (QHP) issuers had submitted initial applications to offer coverage using the federally-facilitated exchange eligibility and enrollment platform ( in 2018. At the initial filing deadline last year, 227 issuers submitted an application compared to 141 this year, a 38 percent drop in filings.

“This is further proof that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is failing,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Insurers continue to flee the exchanges, causing Americans to lose their choice for health insurance or lose their coverage all together. These numbers are clear: the status quo is not working. The American people deserve healthcare choices and access to quality, affordable healthcare coverage.”

At the beginning of the open enrollment period for 2017 coverage, issuer participation had fallen from 227 initial applicants to only 167 issuers actually participating, a drop of 26 percent. Each participating issuer is required to sign a final QHP contract by the end of September in order participate in the exchange in 2018.

Submissions were made by issuers in the 39 states that use the federal exchange eligibility and enrollment platform. CMS expects this number to fluctuate over the next several months as it has in past years. Rates will be finalized by mid-August.