BlueCross BlueShield Cuts Hurting Tennesseans (Op-Ed)
Image Credit: Health Insurance by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Pix4free.org
By Chase Weber [via The Center Square] –
If you haven’t suffered from a life-threatening chronic illness like cancer, diabetes or kidney failure, odds are someone you love has. Whether it’s you, a family member or a friend, being impacted by these hardships can make us grateful for the healthcare workers that guide us through the difficult times – like the doctor you’ve trusted for years or the oncologist your family member goes to for monthly check-ins. Given the invaluable role that access to a trusted healthcare provider plays in so many lives, I’ve been deeply disturbed to see the network cuts that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee (BCBST), the largest health insurance provider in our state, has been making across Tennessee.
Despite the company generating about a 50 percent increase in profits in its most recent annual report, over the past few months BCBST began kicking providers out of network, drastically narrowing the provider options available to its customers in hopes of improving its bottom line. The most reported on example came at the end of last year, when BCBST kicked Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare out of its network, but this conflict was just the tip of the iceberg, as other providers in the state have attested to their practices being strong armed out of the Blue Cross network as well.
While BCBST made marginal progress in its conflict with Methodist by reaching an agreement to serve Tennessee Medicaid members at Methodist, there is a misconception by some that this agreement has resolved the issue. While this progress is good, the reality is it only provides comfort to a small fraction of the patients that have been impacted at one specific healthcare institution. Less than 1-5 of Tennesseans rely on TennCare for their coverage, while about half of Tennesseans rely on their employer-sponsored insurance according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The agreement is essentially equivalent to BCBST slapping a Band-aid on the problem while saying, “you’re on your own” to the vast majority of other patients that have been impacted by the cuts.
It’s hard to overstate the impact that these cuts have had. Reports have surfaced of patients with varying conditions being put through hell as a result, whether that be the case of a terminally ill man with kidney failure being removed from a transplant list due to BSBST’s contract termination, or a mother who can no longer bring her daughter with cerebral palsy to their trusted, specialized provider because of the cuts.
I consider myself a staunch supporter of business and appreciate the role that private industry plays in our healthcare system – it’s the reason we lead the world in healthcare innovation and cutting-edge treatments – but it is this blatant disregard for the wellbeing of patients that makes many Americans justifiably skeptical of corporations like BCBST, which play a major role in our healthcare system.
BCBST’s cuts are having a traumatic impact on chronic illness patients that are already facing daunting personal health struggles. BCBST is denying many patients access to providers that they have long trusted, or the ones that provide them unique expertise on their condition, with some patients considering upending their lives to move across the state just to have nearby access. BCBST has clearly lost sight of what is most important, the wellbeing of the patients it covers. For their sake, it is critical that our state’s leading health insurance provider finds common ground and strikes an agreement with the providers that it has forced out of network.
About the Author: Chase Weber is a Nashville native and a student at the University of Tennessee. He is a member of the University of Tennessee Conservative Coalition.
One thought on “BlueCross BlueShield Cuts Hurting Tennesseans (Op-Ed)”
If one is a Illegal Alien or from another country everything is taken care of/ FREE. But if one plays by the rules and work you get screwed./ And these same drugs in other countries are a fraction of the cost. Nothing but GREED and control of the drug and Insurance companies.