Aetna reported on Wednesday that it would stop offering coverage in Nebraska or Delaware next year, exiting the Obamacare market completely after suffering huge losses.
The insurance giant is part of a huge exodus of insurers pulling out of the Obamacare market. As a result, the remaining insurers are requesting huge rate hikes, such as Carefirst BCBS wanting a 52 percent rate increase in Maryland and Cigna looking to raise rates by 45 percent in Virginia. Average premiums have already spiked an increase of 38 percent on individual plans since 2014.
Former health-care advisor for Mitt Romney and Manhattan Institute senior fellow Paul Howard believes attracting younger enrollees could help bring costs down overall.
"The biggest challenge is to get younger, healthier people in the market. They're staying out in droves," Howard told CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Thursday. "They wanted 44% of that population to be in the exchanges, right now it's 26, 27%. If you could lower the cost of the plans and make it more like true insurance with lower risks."
About 30 percent of U.S. counties in 2017 are left with only one single insurer, and mostly located in states with more rural and sicker populations.
Howard said another approach to lowering costs would be a high-risk pool solution.
"Take the highest-cost patients and the federal government can pay for some of those costs, making it more profitable for insurers, but also lowering costs for younger healthier people, which lowers risk and premiums across the board," Howard said.
In regards to guaranteeing more affordable coverage, Howard says more freedom and flexibility should be given to the states.
"If you can find ways to bring costs down, best thing to do, again, talk about reinsurance, work on high risk pools, and give states more flexibility in how you design insurance coverage, giving them power to run their own markets, hold them accountable for outcomes," Howard said. "That's the right approach to direct both concerns on the left and right, affordability and coverage."