Scott Flanders, the chief executive officer of eHealthInc., said today that he thinks the Trump administration wantsto shut down HealthCare.gov.

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Former President Barack Obama's U.S. Department of Health andHuman Services set up HealthCare.gov to provide Affordable Care Act exchange administrationservices for states that are unwilling or unable to handle ACAexchange enrollment services themselves.

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"I've heard from two senior officials in the administration thatit is their ambition to shut down HealthCare.gov," Flanders told securitiesanalysts today during conference call.

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Even if HealthCare.gov continues to operate, it might become ahealth plan information site, rather than an enrollment ande-commerce site, Flanders said.

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Once more people realize that running HealthCare.gov costs $1.9billion per year, pressure to revamp it is likely to increase,Flanders predicted.

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Flanders' company, the Mountain View,California-based parent of eHealthInsurance.com, held theconference call to go over fourth-quarter earnings.

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The company reported a net loss of $17 million for the quarteron $44 million in revenue, compared with a net loss of $12 millionon $50 million in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2015.

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The number of relationships with Medicare plan enrolleesincreased 33 percent, to 304,900, but the number of relationshipswith users of commercial individual major medical coverage fell 28percent, to 360,600.

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Flanders said policymakers have to make big changes soon if theywant to see insurers offer commercial individual coverage in2018.

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The market has started to collapse, and the collapse isaccelerating, Flanders said.

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Already, he said, eHealthInsurance.com has no individualproducts to offer consumers in some markets.

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Carriers are still leaving the individual market, and some ofthe remaining players have stopped paying commissions on sales ofindividual products because the business is so unprofitable,Flanders said.

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"If no action were to be taken in this market, there won't beone for the 2018 enrollment year," Flanders said.

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But Flanders said he is optimistic about how the Trumpadministration will respond to the problems.

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The administration is "highly oriented to eliminating waste andgovernment interference with the private sector," Flanderssaid.

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Managers of HealthCare.gov have had a complicated relationshipwith web brokers, and Flanders said a shift ofHealthCare.gov out of the health insurance sales business should begood for eHealth.

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For now, Flanders said, eHealth is trying to focus on increasingsales of Medicare plans and of coverage to employers with 20 orfewer employees.

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Allison Bell

Allison Bell, ThinkAdvisor's insurance editor, previously was LifeHealthPro's health insurance editor. She has a bachelor's degree in economics from Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Think_Allison.