(Adds share price, Anthem and Ohio insurance department comment)
June 6 (Reuters) - Anthem Inc, which has urged Republican lawmakers to stabilize the Obamacare individual health insurance system, on Tuesday announced it would exit most of the Ohio market next year.
The high-profile health insurer, which sells Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in 14 states including New York and California, for months has said that instability and uncertainty over the continuation of government subsidies could cause it to exit markets next year.
Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish two weeks ago reiterated that the company was reviewing its participation in the individual markets created by the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.
Republican lawmakers and President Donald Trump have promised to repeal and replace the law, but have disagreed over the details, creating uncertainty at a time when insurers must submit plans and premium rates for 2018.
In addition, Republicans are trying to cut off Obamacare subsidy payments in court proceedings and President Donald Trump has made conflicting statements about whether the government should continue paying them.
Insurance departments across the country have reported that insurers have submitted rate increases of up to 50 percent and 60 percent or even higher for 2018.
Anthem attributed the Ohio decision to volatility and uncertainty about whether the government would continue to provide cost-sharing subsidies. Anthem said it would continue to sell Obamacare compliant plans outside of the exchange in Pike County, Ohio as well as other individual plans that were grandfathered when the law went into effect.
"An increasing lack of overall predictability simply does not provide a sustainable path forward to provide affordable plan choices for consumers," Anthem said in a statement.
Anthem is the only insurer selling health insurance exchange products in all 88 Ohio counties in 2017 and is the only insurer in 20 counties, according to Ohio Department of Insurance spokesman Chris Brock.
In 2018, the move would leave about 10,500 people in at least 18 counties with no insurer.
"We have always argued the private insurance market is the most severely impacted by the federal law and that is where Congressional action is needed to restore stability," Brock said. The insurance department is looking for options for those affected, he said.
Other large health insurers have also pulled out for 2018, including Aetna Inc and Humana Inc, leaving other areas facing the possibility of no insurer.
Anthem shares rose $1.19, or 0.64 percent, to $187.88 in early afternoon trading. (Reporting by Caroline Humer in New York; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Andrew Hay)