BlueCross BlueShield drops Obamacare in Memphis, Nashville, Knox - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

BlueCross BlueShield drops Obamacare in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville

(Source: WMC Action News 5 archives) (Source: WMC Action News 5 archives)

BlueCross BlueShield will drop coverage for an estimated 100,000 participants in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace in Tennessee for 2017, according to a statement from the insurance company.

BlueCross BlueShield elected to drop Obamacare coverage in parts of the Memphis, Knoxville and Nashville regions. The drop will not affect seniors with Medicare Advantage plans, those enrolled with BlueCare or anyone who has insurance through their employer, but it will withdraw coverage effectively January 1 from policyholders enrolled through the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, in Shelby, Tipton, Fayette, Haywood and Lauderdale Counties.

"We continue to have concerns about uncertainties with the ACA at the federal level that could lead to future losses," said Roy Vaughn, senior vice president and chief communications officer of BlueCross BlueShield. "As a result, we've made this decision to scale back in an effort to limit the risk of losses and protect the financial security our more than three million members rely on."

Coverage will continue in five ACA regions where other insurance options aren't readily available (full BCBST statement and ACA BlueCross BlueShield coverage map for 2017 here).

Brandy Underwood, licensed ACA agent and office manager of the Obamacare Marketplace Exchange at 1339 Madison Avenue said November 1 is the earliest Obamacare BCBST policyholders can explore their coverage options for 2017.

"We're still waiting for other carriers to let us know if they are going to participate or not," Underwood said. "We are also going to be participating with Medicare next year, so that's also another option for everyone. You're still covered for the rest of this year. Continue to make your payments."

For important dates on open enrollment and Q&A regarding BCBST's Obamacare participation, click here.

Tennessee U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, (D) Memphis, said BCBST's decision was a punch in the gut of Tennessee, especially in the wake of state lawmakers declining to accept Medicaid funding from the federal government.

"This has created a more uncertain and riskier environment for health insurance providers," Cohen said in a press release. "Whether it means including a public option or Medicare for all, we will make health care more affordable and available."

"While the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) remains concerned about any carrier ceasing its coverage in any area of Tennessee, every company must make its own decision about providing coverage on the exchange," said TDCI spokesperson Kevin Walters to The Tennessean. "All counties in Tennessee have at least one option for coverage. All of our efforts have been focused on ensuring at least one option in each rating area, recognizing the difficulties of the marketplace."

BCBST added that they may start offering plans statewide again in 2018 if conditions permit.

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