BlueCross BlueShield Drops Obamacare Coverage in 3 Tennessee Markets

Company made the decision after losses of nearly $500 million

September 26, 2016

BlueCross BlueShield announced it will not sell Obamacare coverage in Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville, Tennessee in 2017, citing losses of $500 million.

"We have tried to make the Affordable Care Act marketplace model work for Tennessee, but we believe there are too many uncertainties to continue participating on a statewide level as we have before," the company said.

"BlueCross committed early to the ACA marketplace and has been the only health insurer to offer coverage options in every region in the state since 2014," it said. "And we have experienced losses approaching $500 million over the course of three years on ACA plans, which is unsustainable."

BlueCross BlueShield’s withdrawal from these exchanges means that 100,000 individuals will lose their current insurance policy and have to find another plan.

"Tennesseans continue to bear the brunt of Obamacare’s failures, whether it was the loss of our Obamacare co-op, the closure of CoverTN, or today’s news that our largest insurer will be exiting the marketplace altogether in certain regions of the state," said Rep. Diane Black (R., Tenn.). "As a nurse, it pains me to know how this will impact real people throughout Tennessee—the latest victims of President Obama’s lie that ‘if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it." 

"To make matters worse, there is still no law in place to protect taxpayers from Obamacare fines in the event that all insurers pull out of a particular marketplace," Black said. "That means that, even if Tennesseans had no insurance options to choose from, they would still be subject to Obamacare’s individual mandate, which levies a penalty for not buying insurance."

BlueCross BlueShield’s decision to exit three major markets in Tennessee came after Aetna announced in August that it would drop coverage in 11 of 15 states where it offered coverage due to losses of about $430 million.

"All Tennesseans will have access to coverage next year, and thanks to financial assistance, most people will be able to select a plan for less than $75 per month," said HHS press secretary Marjorie Connolly. "We look forward to Tennesseans coming to shop for plans that include free preventive care and no lifetime limits when Open Enrollment begins on November 1."

Update 5:14 P.M.: This article has been updated to reflect comment from HHS.