It appears that more healthcare choices are coming back to Obamacare next year! A new set of proposals provide some of the strongest evidence yet that Obamacare — once on the verge of collapse in Tennessee — has stabilized.
The state’s largest insurance company, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, plans to reenter the Affordable Care Act marketplace in Nashville, Memphis and surrounding counties next year, providing another option for residents on Obamacare. Additionally, two other insurance companies that already offer Obamacare in these cities, Cigna and Oscar Health, are planning to significantly reduce the cost of their coverage plans.
Although the proposals are not final, it appears Tennesseans will have more options and competitive prices in the coming year, said Kevin Walters, a spokesman for the Department of Commerce and Insurance.
“It’s important that people remember that the rates aren’t just numbers on a page,” Walters said. “The rates impact people’s lives, their businesses and their ability to provide insurance for their families. The tighter market and the increased choices are good news.”
Five insurance companies that currently offer Obamacare coverage plan to continue to do so next year, according to the department. The companies have submitted the following proposals to state regulators for approval:
- BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee: Expanding coverage into Nashville, Memphis, and surrounding counties. Proposed 2020 rate request seeking an average increase of 1.4%.
- Bright Health: Coverage continues in Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville areas; rates increase an average of 2.93%.
- Celtic/Ambetter Insurance: Coverage continues in Chattanooga and Memphis and expands into Nashville and Knoxville; rates decrease an average 1.6%.
- Cigna: Coverage continues in Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis, and the Tri-Cities area and expands into Chattanooga, Jackson, and surrounding counties; premiums decrease 5.7%.
- Oscar Health: Coverage continues in Nashville and Memphis; rates decrease an average of 8.3%.
The most significant shift comes from BlueCross, the largest insurance company in Tennessee by far. BlueCross was initially the only insurer to offer Obamacare coverage across the entire state, but the company pulled out of Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville in 2017, citing heavy financial losses.
BlueCross reentered the Knoxville market in 2018 and is now poised to come back to the other cities, too. If the company follows through on its plan, it will once again offer Obamacare across all of Tennessee.
“This means you have another option to choose from on healthcare.gov,” said Roy Vaughn, a BlueCross spokesman, on Wednesday. “We will compete with other carriers, and we believe we can compete strongly because we are focused solely on Tennessee. We are the hometown health insurance.”
These insurance proposals are part of a dramatic turnaround for Obamacare in Tennessee. Three years ago, rates were climbing and options were shrinking, prompting then-state insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak to warn the marketplace was “very near collapse.” Since then, rates have dropped as competition has increased, at least in part because of expansions like those now proposed by BlueCross, Celtic and Cigna.
None of this is final, however.
The insurance proposals recently revealed must still be approved by state and federal officials, and any of these companies may change their plans over the next few months. The Affordable Care Act is also under fire from the Trump administration and is being challenged in the courts of several Republican-led states, including Tennessee, making the future of Obamacare in 2020 far from certain.
We, here at the agency, will continue to watch these developments and keep you informed if there is any updated news along the way. I know many will be glad to have more choices in healthcare in this state. We get calls often asking for best healthcare advice and even though healthcare.gov is one of the solutions, there haven’t been choices. This news could change all of that.
If we can assist you with anything insurance, please let us know. We’re easy to reach! EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.net or TEXT or CALL us at 615.377.1212. We are always ready to earn your business!