In its second year of offering health insurance products on the federal marketplace, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee lost about 15 percent of its market share, although it still commands more than two-thirds of the market.
The company announced this week 54,460 Tennesseans signed up during the second enrollment period, down from the 133,000 who signed up and paid by May of last year. A good number of those are likely to have migrated to Community Health Alliance, a co-op that has been building its provider network. The insurer's total membership count is now 164,896 Tennesseans, representing 70 percent of the state market, down from about 86 percent in 2014. About 11.4 million people signed up on the federal marketplace nationally, of which 229,000 were Tennesseans.
"It's important for us to have again earned the trust of the majority of those in the market, including those customers who chose us in the first pen enrollment," Henry Smith, BlueCross senior vice president of operations and chief marketing officer, said in a release. "We're pleased that our customers saw the value in our products and service."
Of the 2015 enrollees, approximately 80 percent receive premium subsidies, and 51 percent are 45 or older. The largest percentage of members — 29 percent — live in the Nashville area.
A bill that would block the state from setting up an insurance exchange is nothing more than a political statement by Sen. Brian Kelsey, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said Thursday.
“I don’t think that bill’s needed. Once again, sometimes you have overkill,” Ramsey told reporters. “The basic premise of that, if the Supreme Court rules this way or the Supreme Court rules that way and if ‘that’ happens we’re going to do ‘that’ — that’s not the way you pass legislation,” Ramsey said.
Senate Bill 72 is built around a lawsuit now before the U.S. Supreme Court, King v. Burwell, that challenges whether the Internal Revenue Service can write rules to extend subsidies to people who buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s federal exchanges. Should the court find the IRS cannot write rules, Kelsey’s bill prohibits Tennessee from operating its own exchange and blocks the state from putting money for an exchange in the state’s budget.
“That’s more a political statement than it is good government,” said Ramsey.
Ramsey said he has faith Gov. Bill Haslam would come to the legislature first should he want to install a state exchange. An estimated 229,000 people in Tennessee selected health care plans on the federal exchange, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, posing a “big problem” if the federal exchange can’t be used and there’s no state exchange to turn to, Ramsey said.
“I just told him where I was. He rolled it for three weeks after that. That might tell you something,” Ramsey laughed.
Kelsey rolled the bill in the Commerce and Labor Committee Tuesday until March 10, saying he is waiting to meet with the administration about the legislation.
Here's what Andrew Ogles, state director of the Tennessee chapter of Americans for Prosperity, said in response to this afternoon's vote that ended the push for Gov. Bill Haslam's Insure Tennessee plan: “We couldn’t have done this without our grassroots activists showing up to hold their legislators accountable. This is truly a victory for the Tennessee taxpayers. We commend the Senators voting to defeat this measure and other legislators who led the fight. Thank you for listening to your constituents and voting to stop Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in Tennessee.”
POSTDATA: WARRANTY DEEDS