Tennessee approves ACA insurance rate requests for 2018 marketplace

FILE - In this Feb. 9, 2017, file photo, the HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington. Something new is happening in a health care debate dominated for seven years by the twists and turns of Barack Obama’s signature law. The focus has shifted to ideas from President Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers in Congress, and most people don’t like what they see. With Republicans in command, their health care proposals as currently formulated have generated far more concern than enthusiasm. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance announced Wednesday it had approved insurance rates requested by three carriers on the 2018 individual health care marketplace ahead of open enrollment.

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee sought an average 21.4 percent increase, with a range of 4.6 percent to 44.5 percent. Cigna sought an average 42.1 percent increase, with a range of 12.2 percent to 182.2 percent. Oscar Health was not previously on the individual marketplace in Tennessee.

BlueCross BlueShield will be the only carrier available on the marketplace in the Greater Knoxville area. Average rates on the Bronze Plan will be $417.23 for a 35-year-old and $761.39 for a 55-year-old. Average rates on one of two available Silver Plans will be $691.29 for a 35-year-old and $1,261.59 for a 55-year-old. Average rates on the Gold Plan will be $895.65 for a 35-year-old and $1,634.46 for a 55-year-old.

TDCI Commissioner Julie McPeak says she is disappointed that recent bipartisan efforts to stabilize the marketplace have failed. She hoped such stabilization would help lower 2018 rates.

“While Tennessee is supportive of long-term strategies such as the Graham-Cassidy Amendment introduced in Congress, I appreciate the diligent efforts of Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray to find common ground in providing more immediate stabilization in the marketplace. Instead, it appears more likely that Tennesseans must prepare themselves for a round of actuarially justified rates for 2018 that are far higher than could be necessary as a result of uncertainty in Washington. On behalf of Tennessee consumers, I continue to urge Congress to take action to stabilize insurance markets. The Department stands ready to take action to aid consumers should stabilization measures be enacted,” she said.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services must now review the approvals. Companies will have until September 27 to sign agreements with CMS to take part in the marketplace.

A public meeting is scheduled on October 18 at their office in Room 1-A of the Davy Crockett Tower at 500 James Robertson Parkway in Nashville from 10 a.m. to noon Central time. Each of the three insurers are expected to participate. Interested parties should register in advance by emailing their name, title and organization to Brian Hoffmeister.

Open enrollment for 2018 is scheduled to run from November 1 through December 15.

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