TN Approves Health Insurance Hike

Posted at 6:44 PM, Aug 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-24 13:54:39-04

The Tennessee Insurance Commissioner announced that the office approved large double digit rate increases for all of the companies offering health insurance in 2017.

The bottom line is the Affordable Care Act won't be quite as affordable next year for the hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans who rely on it for their heath insurance.

Yet, just how much more it will cost people, depends on the plan they choose and where in Tennessee they live.

Tennessee's Insurance Commissioner Julie McPeak announced the hefty rate hikes just hours after her office approved them on Tuesday.

"The rate increases are substantial. Absolutely," she said.

Next year, the three companies offering coverage in Tennessee will be Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, and Humana.

They'll raise their rates on average, anywhere from 40 to 60% percent. That's another $1,500 to $2,000 a year for most Tennesseans who buy their insurance through the health care exchange.

"I'm terribly concerned. I know that we're talking about significant dollars to Tennessee families and I don't take that lightly at all," McPeak shared with reporters at a news conference at her office.

She said the decision to raise rates wasn't easy, but after United Health Care announced it was dropping out of the plan, leaving only three companies offering health care coverage to Tennesseans next year  through the Affordable Care Act marketplace and the companies all complaining about facing significant losses, McPeak feared that without the sizeable increase, consumers might be left with few or no options.

"It can cause a pretty quick domino effect of everyone leaving the marketplace and that's what we're trying to avoid at all costs," she explained.

After the announcement, Governor Haslam said he too was concerned and felt the state had to do what it had to do.

"They can't make insurance companies cover people if it doesn't pay off for insurance companies," Haslam said.

"I'm not saying raising premiums at this rate is a good thing, I don't think it is," Walter Davis with the Tennessee Health Care Campaign told NewsChannel5. The health care advocate said help has always been available to consumers to help pay premiums and that's not going to change.

"If the premiums are higher, people are going to find more support. They still will probably pay an increase in premiums themselves and their share of it, but it's not the staggering cost that this rate increase suggests," Davis said.

If you need help paying your premiums or have questions about which plan is right for you, you can contact the Tennessee Health Care Campaign toll-free at 844-644-5443.

One thing to keep in mind with open enrollment around the corner is that while you used to be able to choose between providers, in many counties now, you'll find there's only one insurer offering coverage.