TN Commissioner: Obamacare Exchange on Brink of Collapse


Tennessee’s insurance commissioner said the Obamacare exchanges in her state are “very near collapse” after she approved rate increases for three insurance carriers on the exchanges in an attempt to give consumers more options for open enrollment in November.

“I would characterize the exchange market in Tennessee as very near collapse … and that all of our efforts are really focused on making sure we have as many writers in the areas as possible, knowing that might be one. I’m doing everything I can to prevent a situation where that turns to zero,” Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance commissioner Julie Mix McPeak said to The Tennessean.

McPeak said that the reason she let insurers raise their rates was because she wanted to keep insurers on the exchange.

Of the three insurers on the market in Tennessee, Blue Cross Blue Shield received a 62 percent increase in rates, Cigna received a 46.3 percent increase, and Humana received a 44.3 percent increase

The New York Times reported last Friday that, due to the pullout of large insurers like Humana and Aetna, people living in five states will only have one insurer to choose from when purchasing a health care plan on the exchanges.

In Pinal County, Arizona, residents will have no insurers to choose from because no insurers want to sell plans on the exchange, Politico reported.

The companies that remain on Tennessee’s exchanges are reporting record losses.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee predicts that, by the end of 2016, it will have lost $500 million in the three years the insurer has been on the exchange, communications officer for BCBST Roy Vaughn said to The Tennessean.

Due to the losses, BCBST expects to make a final decision on whether or not they will stay on the exchanges for 2017 by September of this year.

Even though BCBST remains in Tennessee’s exchange for now, BCBS companies in other states are leaving due to the amount of losses suffered by staying in these state-run exchanges.

In June, BCBS of Minnesota announced that they would be leaving the exchanges due to $500 million in losses, NPR reported.