In the wake of several failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in D.C., Tennessee’s commissioner of the Department of Commerce and Insurance says that the future of the individual insurance marketplace is even less secure than it’s been in the past. Julie Mix McPeak, the Tennessee insurance commissioner, expressed concerns that the most recent failed repeal effort will hamper efforts to stabilize the marketplace for 2018.
Additional concerns arise from President Trump’s threats to ‘let the ACA implode,’ such as by discontinuing the cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, which help them offset the lower premiums paid by lower-income people.
As a result of this uncertainty, premium rate requests continue to be high, although not as high as last year. Insurers based their rate increases—about 14 percent—on the assumption that the cost-sharing reduction payments will no longer be made. In 2017, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee increased premiums by 62 percent on average, Cigna increased premiums by 46 percent on average, and Humana increased premiums by 44.3 percent on average. For 2018, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has requested a 21 percent average rate increase, Cigna has requested a 42.1 percent average rate increase, and Humana is exiting the ACA marketplace.
McPeak has said she wants D.C. lawmakers to act to keep insurance options available. If something isn’t done, she is concerned that all insurers will pull out of the marketplace nationwide.