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The Senate votes to withdraw funding for the Saudi war in Yemen. Also on the Friday rundown: the Global Climate Conference reinforces the need for grassroots movements; and could this be the most wasteful time of year?

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Digging Deeper to Pay for 2019 Health Insurance

Health insurance premiums in Tennessee will increase by at least one-third for many people next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. (Lira_n4/Twenty20)
Health insurance premiums in Tennessee will increase by at least one-third for many people next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. (Lira_n4/Twenty20)
May 29, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennesseans who have to purchase their own health insurance plans can expect to dig even deeper next year to pay for them.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates a 31- to 54-percent premium spike.

Tennessee is one of the states that didn't opt to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and uses the federally run health insurance exchange.

The prospect of higher premiums comes after Humana stopped offering coverage in Tennessee last year, citing costs and the elimination of federal subsidies to help people pay for their policies.

Eliot Fishman, senior director for health policy for the health care advocacy group Families USA, says the Volunteer State isn't alone in its challenges.

"What Tennessee is experiencing is unfortunately, as the CBO describes, typical of many states around the country,” Fishman states. “Premiums went up significantly last year, and are projected to go up again this coming year."

Blue Cross, Tennessee's largest insurer, expects its premiums to remain stable next year, as the company says it already planned for some of the latest changes to the Affordable Care Act.

In its report, the CBO attributes the big premium hikes to the elimination of federal subsidies for low and middle-income people, and uncertainties about the future of the ACA.

Fishman says it's important to consider the source and objectiveness of the CBO. He notes the agency says the premium hikes are the result of changes made under the Trump administration.

"The CBO is really the most authoritative voice on these questions, and it reports ultimately to Congress,” he states. “It has a Republican-appointed director, and is really an unimpeachable and objective source on that question."

A majority of the 229,000 people covered through the Health Exchange in Tennessee receive a subsidy to help offset their premium costs, which also increases the overall cost to the federal government.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN