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COLUMBIA - Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield has officially pulled out of the Affordable Care Act in 17 Missouri counties.

The health care provider announced in a statement Friday that Boone County would be one of the areas where it will no longer provide coverage.

Columbia resident Greg Mermelstein said Anthem’s departure puts people like his brother in a crisis.

“My family really needs the health insurance - it really is a matter of life or death for many people,” Mermelstein said. "We’re wanting Anthem, or some other insurance company, to please come in to Columbia and Boone County and provide insurance on the exchange."

Beginning in 2018, Boone County would be without a health care provider as part of the ACA. However, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cigna is stepping in to fill the void.

“It would be great if another insurance company would step in,” Mermelstein said. "That would be wonderful. I wish multiple insurance companies would step in to allow for more choice.”

In Anthem’s statement, the company said those on grandfathered health plans, transitional policies or Medicare aren’t affected by the change.

Warren County is the only other county in KOMU 8 News' viewing area in which Anthem will no longer offer individual health plans.

Cigna has not responded to KOMU 8 News' request for comment.