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Tennessee: Gah. BCBS pulls out of 30 counties; 131K more will have to shop around

Things are looking pretty good for the ACA exchanges in states like Rhode Island, North Dakota and Massachusetts, where they're looking at single-digit rate hikes next year. However, they're looking pretty dire in states like Arizona, Montana and Oklahoma, where the average hikes are likely to be around 50% or higher for many people.

And then there's Tennessee, where Blue Cross Blue Shield asked for and received a 62% rate hike...but even so, just announced that they're dropping out of the individual market completely (both on and off exchange) in 30 counties throughout the state, in the Memphis, Knoxville and Nashville areas:

Bluecross BlueShield of Tennessee is pulling out of three regions in 2017 for their individual/marketplace plans.

“Because of many challenges, we have made the difficult, but necessary decision to end coverage in three regions for 2017 – the Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville regions,” the company said in a statement. “We’re disappointed in this development, but want to help you understand how we made this decision and how it affects you.”

...Humana will now be the only carrier serving the Knoxville market. Humana and Cigna are available in the rest of the state.

According to the article, this will impact about 131,000 current BCBS enrollees; around 92,000 others outside of those regions will apparently be able to stick with BCBS. Due to how weighted averages work, however, this ironically means that technically speaking, the weighted average rate hike for those renewing their policies has actually dropped by a few points, as shown below:

Back in mid-August, I tallied up all the current ACA exchange enrollees who will have to shop around this fall whether they wish to or not, and concluded that it likely numbers around 2 million people. Since then, there have been additional carrier pull-outs in some states. I haven't updated the hard numbers since August, but with today's news out of Tennessee I'm guessing it's up to around 2.5 million now, out of perhaps 10.2 million people still currently enrolled in effectuated exchange policies as of September.