published Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee extends deadline for Obamacare

Aerial of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee headquarters in Chattanooga
Aerial of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee headquarters in Chattanooga
Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Local and national coverage
BY THE NUMBERS

• 2,153,421 - Number of Americans who signed up for health insurance through one of the new health care exchanges last year

• 58,267 - Number of Georgians who signed up for one of the new health care exchanges

• 36,077 - Number of Tennesseans who signed up for one of the new health care exchange

• 28,509 - Number of Alabamans who signed up fro one of the new health care exchanges

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Tennessee’s biggest health insurer is giving more time for those signing up for health care coverage under Obamacare to pay their premiums.

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee said Tuesday it will extend until the end of January the deadline for premiums to be paid for health care plans offered through the new health insurance marketplace. The plans became effective on Jan. 1, but the Chattanooga-based BlueCross is granting until Jan. 31 for premiums to be paid on the new policies to help reduce the possibility of gaps in coverage.

“We wanted to provide as much flexibility as possible for our members — many of whom are new to the process of purchasing insurance,” said Kelly Paulk, director of product strategy for BlueCross. “Payment is the final step in the process. Consumers can apply and select a plan, but it is payment of the premium that completes enrollment and puts their coverage into effect.”

BlueCross members who have signed up for the new plans but not yet paid their premiums can see a doctor or fill a prescription and submit these bills to BlueCross after they make their first premium payment. Payment can be made online, via mail by check, or by calling 1-855-484-0282.

BlueCross, one of three health plans under the new exchanges in Tennessee, has garnered the biggest share of the 36,077 Tennesseans who have signed up so far for one of the new individual health plans offered through the Affordable Care Act, whose coverage began on Jan. 1. In Tennessee, 23 percent of those who enrolled were under age 35, compared with 30 percent of those who have enrolled nationwide, according to a new federal report.

In Georgia, 58,267 persons have enrolled in one of the new health care exchanges through December and 26 percent of those are under age 35.

Enrollment figures released this year by the U.S. Department and Health and Human Services show that more than 83 percent of those who signed up for coverage under ObamaÇare last year did so in December. BlueCross spokeswoman Mary Danielson said the insurer is still actively promoting its health plans to uninsured Tennesseans who have until the end of March to purchase health insurance under the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

“We have seen great interest from Tennessee consumers seeking health care coverage under the health care law and we continue to receive many calls and inquiries from those wanting to enroll,” she said.

The Affordable Care Act could extend health insurance to up to 500,000 or more Tennesseans through the new health exchanges and through subsidies and tax breaks offered to individuals and businesses to buy coverage.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

about Dave Flessner...

Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...

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