All TN counties will be covered by Obamacare next year, but only one provider in many areas

Filings with the state Department of Commerce and Insurance released Wednesday show Chattanooga, Knoxville and two-thirds of Tennessee’s 95 counties will have only one insurance provider offering individual health insurance plans under the health exchange markets next year, reports the Times Free Press.

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, which withdrew from the state’s three biggest markets this year to limit its losses from Obamacare, has agreed to resume service to Knoxville to ensure that all counties have at least one carrier.

Cigna Health Insurance plans to continue offering plans in Memphis and Nashville, but other major insurance companies, including Humana, Aetna and United Healthcare, have pulled out of Tennessee’s individual market over the past several years.

But Tennessee has attracted a new insurance provider that was founded by the brother of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Oscar Health Insurance, a New York-based company founded by Joshua Kushner, Mario Schlosser and Kevin Nazemi, is offering to provide an individual plans in the Nashville market area. Oscar is a subsidiary of Mulberry Health Inc. and is expanding into Tennessee, Ohio, Texas, New Jersey and California next year.

“Why seek to expand in a time of uncertainty?” Mario Schlosser, CEO and co-founder of Oscar, asks in a new blog post about the company’s 2018 plans. “We’re confident that when the dust settles, the market for health insurance will stabilize in time for 2018. For all of the political noise, there are simply too many lives at stake for representatives in Washington, D.C., not to do what’s right for the people.”

… The Chattanooga- based BlueCross, Cigna and Oscar notified the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) of their intent to offer individual health insurance coverage on and off the Federally Facilitated Marketplace when Open Enrollment begins for 2018 on Nov. 1, 2017.

Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak said she is “pleased that there would be no uncovered areas in Tennessee” but she said “the market remains challenged as most Tennessee consumers will still face limited options and increasing premium prices.

“The uncertainty about the future of the exchange, cost-sharing reduction payments, and enforcement of the individual mandate will likely increase carrier rate requests by 15 to 20 percent above what they would have otherwise filed,” she said. “I share consumers’ frustrations about federal uncertainty and how that is impacting their ability to afford insurance.”

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