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Tenn.'s largest health insurer to extend coverage - TriCities.com: Local News

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Tenn.'s largest health insurer to extend coverage

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Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2013 1:15 pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee's largest health insurer says it plans to extend coverage for plans that were deemed invalid under the federal health care law.

The decision by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee comes after President Barack Obama said companies can continue providing coverage for a year under policies that do not comply with new requirements of the beleaguered law. However, the option would only apply to existing customers of those plans and would not be extended to new customers.

That left insurance companies and states to determine how to respond to the president's decision.

The Tennessean reports that BlueCross BlueShield had its response Friday.

"At BlueCross, we've always believed people should be able to choose the plan they think best meets their needs, so we support this effort to let our individual members and small business customers keep their existing coverage," the insurer said in a statement. "To make this change as quickly as possible, we'll need to work closely with our state regulators to update our policies and review rates to keep these plans available to existing members and small groups."

A timeline was not available for when details might be communicated to policyholders.

Earlier on Friday, Tennessee's insurance commissioner said insurers will likely be allowed to continue to offer plans that don't comply with changes mandated by health care reform in 2014, but that the state is reviewing what needs to happen to make that change.

Before making a final determination, Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak said the state is awaiting additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to ensure state officials have all the information needed to implement the change.

A final decision by the state is expected early next week.

McPeak said many insurers may decide on their own not to continue to offer the canceled policies. Resurrecting them might be difficult technologically, and doing so may not be economically viable.

"We need to check with stakeholders — the insurance companies — to see if it's even possible for them to retool their systems," McPeak said. "But I am excited that Tennesseans may have another choice in the marketplace."

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