Where We Are Now
As many former policy holders know, BlueCross BlueShield dealt an unwelcome blow to many Tennesseans in 2017 when they stopped offering ObamaCare coverage for residents of Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville. The Chattanooga-based company is the state’s largest insurer and was initially the only provider to offer coverage across all of Tennessee, so the withdrawal left many policyholders scrambling for coverage.
The good news is that new proposals indicate that Blue Cross may be poised to reenter the Nashville and Memphis markets in 2020. This news come after they reentered the Knoxville market in 2019. Additionally, Cigna is planning to expand their coverage to include Chattanooga and Jackson and surrounding counties in 2020.
According to Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance office, the five major insurance companies in Tennessee have proposed the following (as reported by the Tennessean):
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee: Proposed coverage adds Memphis and Nashville areas to be available Statewide. Proposed 2020 rate request seeking an average increase of 1.4%.
Bright Health: Coverage continues in Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville areas. Proposed 2020 rate request seeking an average increase of 2.93%.
Celtic/Ambetter Insurance: Coverage continues in Chattanooga and Memphis areas with proposed coverage expansion into Nashville and Knoxville areas. Proposed 2020 rate request seeks an average decrease of 1.6%.
Cigna: Coverage continues in Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis, and Tri-Cities with proposed coverage expansion into Chattanooga and Jackson and surrounding counties. Proposed 2020 rate request seeking a premium decrease of 5.7%.
Oscar Health: Coverage continues in Nashville and Memphis. Proposed 2020 request seeking an average decrease of 8.3%.
Blue Cross originally cited heavy financial losses for the reason they dropped coverage for much of Tennessee in 2017, and the withdrawal prompted many to fear a collapse of the Affordable Care Act in the state. However, the new proposals, which show that providers are hoping to either cut premiums or hold increases to a minimum, seems to indicate a stabilization of the market.
The proposals are not final yet, but it does appear that the market in Tennessee is more competitive compared to a few years ago, which should translate to more choices and more attractive premiums.
I’m based in Nashville and an agent for BlueCross BlueShield, Cigna, Bright and Oscar, and am pursuing a contract with AmBetter. I will do my best to answer your questions and keep you informed. Please feel free to contact me with any insurance questions.