(WBIR) Tennessee's largest health insurance provider is asking to raise its rates next year and it's not alone.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (BCBS) is looking to raise rates by an average of 19% on the Marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Cigna plans on a 7.5% increase, while Humana is asking for a 14.4% increase, on its marketplace plans.
The rate increases would go into effect in 2015.
"Wow, that just blows my mind. It really does," said Natasha Carter of Knoxville.
Carter has been uninsured for the past three years; she plans to enroll through the Marketplace next year.
"It's time for a mammogram, can't even afford one. Don't know when the last physical was either because it's too expensive. Gotta have day to day living too," she said.
About 130,000 Tennesseans have already purchased plans under the ACA; BCBS accounts for 88% of those paid plans.
"They had to decide on what the rates were gonna be for 2014. They had no idea how many people were going to sign up, what ages, how sick they were going to be. So they were really, like I said, flying blind. They made these rates so I'm not at all surprised," said Jean Alexander, an independent insurance agent in Knoxville.
Alexander said, for these insurance companies, it is a matter of staying in business.
In documents filed with the state, the insurance companies blamed "morbidity rates" for the hikes. That means those who signed up on federal exchanges, were sicker than companies projected.
"Even though the rates go up, you might get a higher subsidy which may not make the impact as much. So that's something we don't know," Alexander said.
Consumers also do not know what plans will be available for 2015 enrollment and if other companies will join the Marketplace, as well.
According to Alexander, those who purchased insurance through the Marketplace would get notices of the increases some time in the fall. They would have from Nov. 15 to Jan. 1 to change plans.