President Donald Trump and several other Congressional Republicans have repeatedly warned that Obamacare will ultimately collapse due to its own shortcomings, if it isn’t repealed soon enough. However, it seems like the health care law has started to crumble already in Tennessee’s third largest city.
Knoxville, Tennessee, is set to become the first city where Obamacare collapses altogether. While the estimated population in Knoxville in 2015 was 185,291; as of now, there is only one health insurer that offers coverage on the Obamacare exchange to about 40,000 people who live in 16 counties in and around Knoxville, a report by CNN confirms.
Even though Humana is the only insurer servicing patients in Knoxville in 2017, it recently announced that it had decided to pull out of the Obamacare exchanges nationwide, after losing more than $45 million as part of the program. Humana was the first health insurance provider to announce, earlier this year, that it will be pulling out of the Obamacare exchanges across the nation, in 2018.
“We are again seeing signs of an unbalanced risk pool based on the results of the 2017 open enrollment period. Therefore, we’ve decided we can’t continue to offer this coverage in 2018,” CEO Bruce Broussard reportedly told the company’s investors at the time.
While it is possible that another provider could fill the vacancy created after Humana’s departure, the Republicans’ attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare has created so much uncertainty that it has made insurers reluctant to participate. According to CNN, the deadline for health insurers to confirm their decision to do business in Tennessee is July 1.
Tennessee’s insurance commissioner, Julie McPeak, doesn’t think any insurance provider would want to do business under the current circumstances.
“I’m not optimistic that one of our existing insurers would like to expand their coverage area without some changes to the regulatory system, either by Congress or the administration,” McPeak said.
If other insurers decline to join the Tennessee exchange by July 1, Knoxville patients will have the option of buying insurance from one of three providers outside the exchange, Aetna, Freedom Life Insurance, and Tennessee Rural Health. However, patients who buy a plan from insurers outside the Obamacare will not be eligible to apply for any federal subsidies.