Tennessee Obamacare Rates Drop Even Lower After Trump Backs Off Funding Cuts | Nashville Public Radio

Tennessee Obamacare Rates Drop Even Lower After Trump Backs Off Funding Cuts

Aug 13, 2018

Rates for individual health insurance plans in Tennessee will drop even more than expected next year, after the Trump Administration reversed plans for cutting payments to insurance companies.

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, for example, will have average rates that are nearly 15 percent less than this year.

The largest insurer on the federal marketplace in the state was already planning to drop rates by nearly 11 percent, even with announced cuts to so-called "risk adjustment payments," meant to offset unexpected costs related to a sicker-than-average population. That announcement came just days before the July 12 deadline to file premium requests in Tennessee. 

But after the Trump Administration backed off those cuts in late July, Tennessee's insurance commissioner asked companies to resubmit. All five lowered their premiums.

Cigna had the biggest change, moving from a nearly 5 percent decrease to a nearly 13 percent drop. Oscar was proposing to increase rates by nearly 11 percent and lowered that to roughly 7 percent.

Bright and Celtic are new to Tennessee but lowered their average premiums slightly after the Trump administration reversal.

But the premium reductions come after years of hefty price hikes. Tennessee started out with some of the country's cheapest plans on the marketplace, but rates nearly tripled in the following years.

The closely-watched rates are also less and less relevant to most of the 230,000 who are buying plans on the individual marketplace in Tennessee. Government subsidies given to individuals have grown even more than premiums. In 2018, most people were paying about 50 percent less than the year before.

These are still rate proposals and will have to be certified by state regulators. Open enrollment for the individual marketplace begins Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 15.