Residents of Boone County utilizing the Affordable Care Act marketplace will have a new challenge next year as the county’s only carrier will no longer offer health insurance.

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield announced last Friday that they will no longer offer health insurance for the Affordable Care Act marketplace in Boone County and 16 other counties in 2018.

The carrier has provided health insurance plans in the marketplace since 2014. Anthem will continue to offer plans in 68 Missouri counties, including counties surrounding Boone. In a statement, Anthem said residents in these counties would otherwise not have health insurance coverage in the exchange.

It is unknown whether any other insurance carrier will decide to offer plans in Boone County.

Anthem is also pulling out of other heaviliy populated areas of Missouri, including St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County.

“We are pleased that some steps have been taken to address the long term challenges all health plans serving the individual market are facing,” Anthem said in its statement. “However, the continued uncertainty makes it difficult for us to offer individual health plans statewide.”

Individuals who are enrolled in a grandfathered individual or family plan, transitional policies, employer-sponsored insurance or Medicare won’t be affected by the changes, Anthem said.

Health insurance carriers wanting to participate in the 2018 exchange must sign a final qualified health plan by the end of September, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Open enrollment for 2018 begins Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15.