Tenn. lawmakers, residents search for solutions after Blue Cross Blue Shield pulls out of ACA

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – People in the Knoxville area who rely on the health insurance exchange for coverage will soon have just one option. Blue Cross Blue Shield has decided not to offer individual insurance plans in or outside of the Obamacare marketplace for Knoxville and the surrounding counties, as well as the areas near Nashville and Memphis.

Some state lawmakers are working right now to try to figure out what should be done to help the more than 100,000 Tennesseans who will need to find new health insurance by January 1.

Chris Kane is one of nearly 30,000 people in the Knoxville region losing Blue Cross Blue Shield health care coverage. Kane and his family were insured under the exchange.

“We are pretty much left with Humana or we can pay full price with one of the carriers we want to go with, which isn’t in our budget,” said Chris Kane.

After three years in the Affordable Care Act exchange, Blue Cross is experiencing too many losses to continue to provide marketplace plans.

“We ended up with Blue Cross Blue Shield over the last few years losing $400 million getting close to $500 million of losses,” said Rep. Eddie Smith.

Smith says to recover from the losses, Blue Cross will now only offer group plans through an employer in the Knoxville region.

It’s both the marketplace and the private plans that were purchased will go away,” said Rep. Smith.

State Rep. Roger Kane is on the insurance and banking committee. He is also an insurance agent and Chris Kane’s father. He says many customers on the exchange have lots of health issues which led to extra costs that some of the exchange providers didn’t anticipate.

“They have more medical conditions like obesity, higher diabetic rate, higher smoking rate, so the insurance companies really had no experience with these people because they never had insurance before,” said Rep. Roger Kane.

He explained what the state is doing to take action.

“We need to find out at the state level, where do we go from here, because we don’t have an answer for the people,” said Rep. Kane.

The situation has Chris Kane concerned about coverage.

“We just had a baby this year now with the prices going to what they are, that really has you evaluating if you can even afford growing your family,” said Chris Kane.

Humana will now be the only carrier on the exchange serving the Knoxville market. Both Representative Smith and Kane say people who are losing their Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage need to call Humana as soon as possible. They will remain covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield until December 31 but the process to get the new exchange coverage may take a while.

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