BCBS of Tennessee drops ACA plans in state's 3 largest markets

Health insurer BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee will pull back its Affordable Care Act footprint in three of Tennessee's most populous regions for 2017.

The Chattanooga, Tenn.-based insurer will retract its sales of on- and off-exchange plans in the Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville regions. BCBST cited $500 million in losses on ACA plans over the past three years.

An estimated 100,000 members will be affected. The pullback does not include Medicare Advantage plans, BlueCare enrollees or those with employer-sponsored plans. BCBST will offer four plans in five of the state's remaining regions.

"We have tried to make the ACA Marketplace model work for Tennessee, but we believe there are too many uncertainties to continue participating on a statewide level as we have before," BCBST wrote in a prepared statement. "We've made this difficult decision carefully, with the intention [that] Tennesseans in every Marketplace region will still have an option for individual coverage under the ACA."

The insurer said it will contemplate reentering the ACA marketplace in 2018 "if conditions permit." 

Sixty percent of counties in Tennessee are projected to only have one insurer offering on-exchange, individual health plans in the state's federally-facilitated marketplace as of August. Only two insurers — Bloomfield, Conn.-based Cigna and Louisville, Ky.-based Humana — will offer on-exchange, individual plans in 2017. Their respective premium rate increases of 47.9 percent and 44.3 percent were approved.  

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