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Rate Increase of 62% Approved for Blue Cross in 2017

As you may or may not know, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee received approval to proceed with a 62 percent rate increase. I, for one, have never experienced a rate increase like this in my life in any capacity. As a proponent of the Affordable Care Act, this kind of rate increase is one that I have a hard time defending.

To put this into perspective, let me show you how much this would cost. The cheapest Blue Cross Blue Shield health plan I could buy in 2016 would cost $187 without a tax credit. The same plan would cost me $303 dollars in 2017 according to the rate increase. This is a drastic increase for a man with a meager income–especially when there are other bills to pay.

Illustrations like these give creedence to those who criticize the Affordable Care Act as unsustainable, ‘failing,’ and near collapse. I, however, still believe in the law despite record increases. Studies show that the majority of Tennesseans won’t feel the heat of drastic rate increases.

Chattanooga Times-Free Press reporter Dave Flessner recently brought my attention to the fact that health insurance premiums are still affordable for most Tennesseans.

The Department of Health and Human Services just released an analysis ¬†illustrating just how hard the rate increases will hurt Tennessee health exchange consumers. Using enrollment data from the close of the previous Open Enrollment season, Health and Human Services predicted that sticker shock from rate increases won’t be as bad as you’d think.

If a 50% rate increase was to sweep Tennessee’s Marketplace plans, 81 percent of Tennesseans would still be able to find coverage under $75 per month. Eighty-three percent of Tenneseans would still be able to find coverage for under $100 dollars.

We already know Blue Cross Rate increase is fixed at 62 percent. There’s no way of getting around it. I hate to say it, but expect 62 percent rate hikes across the board with Blue Cross. However, don’t fret because as insurance rate hikes increase, so does eligibility for more families and individuals to recieve more tax credits. For those purchasing Marketplace plans, the change won’t be as pronounced.

For those Tennesseans who have Cigna and Humana plans, don’t worry too much about the rate increases. Cigna just received approval for a 46.3 percent rate increase; Humana received approval to implement a 44.3 percent rate increase. The health insurance carriers Cigna and Humana will feature many plans under $75 and $100 using the 50 percent rate increase hypothetical in the HHS analysis to predict price points.

Before you let the sticker shock get the best of you, preview plans and prices on healthcare.gov. Tax credits are unique to each individual and family’s financial tax filings and size. Who knows? A tax credit might still be available to offset the staggering rate increases. Affordable coverage is out there–do your homework to find it or call us!

Open Enrollment begins November 1st, 2016!

Philip Strang works as a health insurance agent for American Exchange. When he is not discussing health plans with customers, he is writing about the health insurance industry. Call him at 1-888-995-1674.

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