Tennessee’s biggest Obamacare critics are trying to squelch any excitement for cheaper-than-expected insurance rates – 16 percent lower than original estimates. And the White House announced this week that the state will have some of the least expensive plans in the country.
The Administration is highlighting what barebones coverage would cost a 27-year-old man. According to the tables – $119 a month on average.
“Why should a 27-year-old male in Memphis be forced to pay nearly three times what he pays today for health insurance?” asks Sen. Lamar Alexander in a press release.
The state’s senior Republican senator points to a $41-a-month plan already available in Tennessee, arguing that the federally-run insurance exchange – now known as “The Marketplace” – will represent a cost hike for some.
A spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee points out that while a $41 plan is available, it has a $7,500 deductible – which wouldn’t meet new Obamacare rules. The plan also lacks mental health coverage, which is now required, and it isn’t available to people with pre-existing conditions.
Michele Johnson of the Tennessee Justice Center – which advocated for Obamacare – says Republicans aren’t comparing apples to apples.
“They hate this law and they don’t want it to work,” she says. “If the rates were high there would be a problem. If the rates are low there’s a problem. The fact is, if you make this insurance pool one where you have healthy people and sick people, the rates should be lower.”
However, it’s also unknown exactly what coverage will be offered with Obamacare plans in Tennessee. While the White House has tabulated an average price, the Administration hasn’t yet released specifics on what the state’s 59 Marketplace plans will cover.