A little over a month ago, major health insurance carrier Humana announced that 2017 will be their last year of providing coverage to Knoxville, TN residents.
Essentially, Obamacare created a lack of competition in the insurance marketplace and major carriers are losing money. This year, carriers began pulling out of certain cities and counties altogether because they were spending more than they were earning. The Obamacare rule which states that carriers must provide insurance even to the fatally ill is running them out of business. They can’t afford to provide coverage for everyone.
Outside of Knoxville, almost every county in Tennessee has the option for either BCBS (Blue Cross Blue Shield) or Cigna coverage. Humana is currently the only Obamacare marketplace carrier in the Knoxville area, meaning that when they leave at the end of this year, Knoxville residents in 16 counties will not have access to Obamacare coverage and their costs will skyrocket.
Now, though, Blue Cross Blue Shield is coming to Knoxville’s rescue.
BCBS had left Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville at the end of 2016 but now sees a greater need than their financial benefit. Plus, they’ve seen economic growth in the past year that will allow them to sustain coverage in Knoxville. President and CEO of BCBS Tennesee 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.”
BCBS says that premiums in their new coverage zone of Knoxville will reflect their uncertainty in the marketplace – even though they’re agreeing to help those in Knoxville who are losing Humana coverage, the move could be almost redundant if the American Health Care Act (AHCA) comes into play.
Tennessee senator Lamar Alexander is still concerned and says that BCBS’ actions are only a temporary solution to a major health care problem. All of this may change with the AHCA anyway – stay tuned.