Local health exchange rates to drop in 2019

This May 21, 2018 image shows the main page of the healthcare.gov website in Washington. On Wednesday, June 13, 2018, two independent experts said that the Trump administration appears to be taking aim at provisions of the Affordable Care Act that protect people in employer plans, not just those consumers who buy a policy directly from an insurer. The new position was outlined a week earlier in a legal brief the Justice Department filed in a Texas case challenging the health law. (HealthCare.gov via AP)

Health insurance rates for individual coverage under the Affordable Care Act in Tennessee will decline next year for the first time after four consecutive years of double-digit annual rate increases.

Tennessee's largest health insurer, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, will cut its individual plan rates by an average of 14.9 percent next year, while Cigna Healthcare will reduce its rates by an average of 12.9 percent in 2019. Oscar Health, which entered the Tennessee market in 2018, will expand in 2019 into Memphis. But unlike its bigger competitors, Oscar Health is proposing to raise its rates next year from 7.2 percent to 10.84 percent.

Two new insurers - the Minneapolis-based Bright Health and Ambetter plans offered by the St. Louis-based Centene Corp - are entering parts of Tennessee with individual coverage next year.

Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak said consumers will have more and cheaper options in 2019, calling the prices for next year "positive developments for Tennessee."