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Obamacare ‘Near Collapse’ In Tennessee, Says Insurance Regulator

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter

Tennessee’s insurance regulator, Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak, said the state’s Obamacare exchange is “very near collapse,” according to her statement to the Tennessean.

McPeak is focusing her efforts on making sure there are as many insurers possible paying into the Tennessee exchange. McPeak told the press, “I’m doing everything I can to prevent a situation where that turns to zero.”

Kevin Walters, director of communications for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that “Tennessee has struggled to curb healthcare costs,” and that the state “has some of the highest insurance claims costs in the nation.”

Walters told TheDCNF that “Tennessee has consistently placed among the highest states in terms of risk scores –meaning that insurance claims costs per enrollee have been higher here than across the nation.”

Walters added that the drivers of the high cost of healthcare in Tennessee are the “more frequent utilization of healthcare services, greater percentages of insureds with chronic diseases, the age of the FFM market (50% of the FFM population is over 45) and rising pharmacy costs (particularly specialty drug prices increasing, i.e. Hep C drug Sovaldi).”

Even though McPeak has stated her main goal is getting as many insurers that are in the marketplace as possible, Walters noted that by 2017,”Tennessee will be going from zero counties with only one insurer on the exchange participating to 57 counties with one,” according to statements released to TheDCNF.

This lack of competition in the marketplace isn’t just relegated to those counties. Walters told TheDCNF that the state “will go from 57 counties with 2 insurers in 2016 to 24 counties with two insurers in 2017,” and will have “38 counties with three insurers on the ACA exchange in 2016 to 14 counties with three insurers in 2017.”

The percentage rates for insurance have increased substantially over the past three years. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield experienced a 19 percent increase in 2015, a 36.3 percent increase in 2016, and a projected 62 percent increase in rates by 2017, Walters told TheDCNF.

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