By Andrew Ogles and Luke Hilgemann
Tennessee is ground zero for ObamaCare’s nationwide implosion. Late last month the state insurance commissioner, Julie Mix McPeak, approved premium increases of up to 62% in a bid to save the exchange set up under the Affordable Care Act. “I would characterize the exchange market in Tennessee as very near collapse,” she said.
Then last week BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee announced it would leave three of the state’s largest exchange markets—Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville. “We have experienced losses approaching $500 million over the course of three years on ACA plans,” the company said, “which is unsustainable.” As a result, more than 100,000 Tennesseans will be forced to seek out new coverage for 2017.
BlueCross is only the latest insurer to head for the exits. Community Health Alliance, the insurance co-op established under ObamaCare, is winding down due to financial failure, leaving 30,000 people without coverage. UnitedHealthcare said in April it is departing Tennessee’s exchange after significant losses. That’s another 41,000 people needing new plans.
All told, more than 60% of our state’s ObamaCare consumers will lose their coverage heading into 2017. When they go in search of a replacement plan, they will confront two unfortunate realities: a dearth of options and skyrocketing costs.
Seventy-three out of Tennessee’s 95 counties will have only one insurer on the exchange, meaning no meaningful competition whatsoever.
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