Healthcare policy change leaves Tennesseans waiting for answers

Healthcare policy change leaves Tennesseans waiting for answers (Image 1)

While President Barack Obama says he will now allow people to keep their health insurance that's facing cancellation, it's left those with the policies still full of questions, and insurers “waiting for guidelines.”

“I am glad they are making steps that seem to be in the right direction for people like me. It really does not make me feel a whole lot better,” said Anna Young whose AccessTN policy is ending on December 31.”And for me the clock is ticking.”

Anna suffers from a rare muscular disease that requires a certain drug to keep her from being in a wheelchair.

She has not been able to get answers as whether the drug, Myfortic, will be covered, and affordable, under new policies she might purchase, but now she's not sure if her soon-to-be-canceled policy at AccessTN will remain in effect for another year.

“I have got to have something in place January 1 that I can count on for my drug coverage, or at least know what I am dealing with so I can budget accordingly,” Anna told News 2 shortly after the president's announcement.

Anna's policy through AccessTN, which is for high-risk individuals who had been classified by insurers as “uninsurable” in the past, is actually a BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee policy.

The Chattanooga-based company contracted with the state to provide the coverage.

BlueCross BlueShield of TN spokesperson Gary Tanner released a statement to News 2 about the President Obama's actions on Thursday saying, “Since 2010, we've been committed to complying with the health care law. We're continuing to monitor these developments to understand the President's new direction. We'll seek guidance from our state and federal regulators before we can clearly define any actions we may take.”

The state's TennCare program, which administers AccessTN, released a similar statement that read, “The state and its contractors have been working for several years to prepare for the ramifications of the Affordable Care Act which includes changes to the Cover Tennessee programs. Now just over a month away from the full implementation of those changes, the federal government has changed direction. Once the official policy is outlined and provided to states and insurers, we will be reviewing them and evaluating what effect these changes will have on the state operated programs.”

“The onus will be on the insurance companies,” Nashville insurance broker Austin Madison told News 2.

He says insurance companies face a difficult decision deciding if they will extend policies they were canceling to comply with the increased coverage required by Obamacare.

“This is like turning the Titanic, insurance companies are huge and for the past three years the thumb has been on them to make these changes and do away with the plans that don't meet these requirements,” added the broker.

Madison said turning that Titanic ship of Obamacare could impact everyone.

He says individuals keeping their plans, especially young ones, won't help getting enough people on Obamacare to make it work financially.

“If we don't hear that number by March of where we are supposed to be at, we are going to experience some significant rate shock next year for health care premiums,” he warned. “Its going to be an interesting next couple of years I think.”

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