Top Tennessee Insurer Doubts Employers Will Rush To Stop Covering Workers

“One kind of conspiracy theory, if you will, is that this whole thing was designed to get employers to relinquish their responsibility for doing health insurance for their people,” says Bill Gracey, CEO of BlueCross BlueShield Tennessee. Credit WPLN / Daniel Potter

“One kind of conspiracy theory, if you will, is that this whole thing was designed to get employers to relinquish their responsibility for doing health insurance for their people,” says Bill Gracey, CEO of BlueCross BlueShield Tennessee. Credit WPLN / Daniel Potter

The head of the state’s largest insurance company says most Tennesseans’ earnings are low enough to qualify for some degree of government aid for healthcare.  That’s led to speculation employers who offer coverage will stop, says Bill Gracey, CEO of BlueCross BlueShield Tennessee.  But he argues such a shift won’t be widespread – at least right away.

A family of four making up to $90 thousand a year could qualify for some help buying insurance through a federally run exchange in Tennessee, if their jobs don’t offer coverage.  Gracey says there’s a “conspiracy theory” the system was built to drive more employers away from brokering healthcare.  But he doesn’t believe it.

“I don’t think that’s true – I don’t think there’s that much deviousness involved.  But it is a pattern.”

Gracey thinks “migration” to the exchange will happen, but not as much as some imagine, at least immediately.  He expects a trend toward more employers offering so-called “defined contributions” – a fixed amount workers can spend on the insurance plan of their choice.

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