BlueCross set to fill ObamaCare coverage gap in Tenn.

BlueCross set to fill ObamaCare coverage gap in Tenn.
© Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is planning to offer insurance on ObamaCare exchanges in 16 counties in Tennessee that appeared to have no insurers left for 2018.

Humana announced earlier this year it would leave the exchanges after 2017, creating a major gap in the 16 counties where it was the only exchange provider.

BlueCross on Tuesday said it will step in to offer insurance on the exchanges in the Knoxville area, contingent on an agreement with state regulators.

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"I want to confirm that BlueCross is willing to serve the Knoxville region in the 2018 individual Marketplace," CEO and President JD Hickey wrote in a letter to Tennessee insurance commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. 

Hickey said his company was moved to act by the necessity to offer coverage for citizens who have no other options.

"Again, I want to stress that our openness to this action is in no way a political decision. Nor is it a reflection of our perspective on the stability of individual Marketplace overall. In fact, we can't justify doing so based solely on current political uncertainty, but instead we believe it is an extension of our mission to serve our fellow Tennesseans, especially those who do not have other options for coverage."

Hickey noted that prices in those areas may be higher because of uncertainty in the markets over whether the Trump administration will enforce ObamaCare's individual mandate or fund key insurer payments. 

He also noted that the company may not sign the agreement in September in the event of further changes that destabilize the market.