A little over a month ago, major health insurance carrier Humana gave Knoxville residents a scare by announcing their 2018 Obamacare plan exit.
Over the past few years, Obamacare has created a lack of competition among carriers. Carriers are starting to lose money due to the requirement that they provide coverage for the terminally ill. Knoxville has a large senior and Medicare eligible population and Humana simply can’t afford to cover everyone. However, if they’re in the city at all, they have to cover everyone in the city.
Outside of Knoxville, most Tennesee counties have the option for BCBS (Blue Cross Blue Shield) or Cigna coverage. Humana, as of the fall of 2016, is the only option in Knoxville. When they leave at the end of this year, Knoxville residents in 16 counties will not have access to any form of Obamacare coverage, causing their costs to skyrocket.
At the end of 2016, BCBS left Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville for the same reason that Humana is leaving Knoxville now. However, BCBS Tennesee President and CEO J.D. Hickey states, “we believe it is an extension of our mission to serve our fellow Tennesseans, especially those who do not have other options for coverage.” There is now a greater need than the company’s financial gain. Now, Blue Cross Blue Shield is rescuing the Knoxville exchange.
BCBS says that premiums in their new coverage zone of Knoxville will reflect marketplace uncertainty. Even though they’re agreeing to help those in Knoxville who are losing Humana coverage, the move could be costly. Plus, it may soon be redundant if the American Health Care Act (AHCA) comes into play.
Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander reminds us that BCBS’ actions are only a temporary solution. This is a major health care problem not just in Tennessee but all across the nation. All of this may change with the AHCA anyway.
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