Driving Up Costs at the Cost of Your Care

BlueCross BlueShieldLatest Updates

CHI Memorial has come to BlueCross asking for significant rate increases – less than three years after we agreed to higher rates.  

They claim that these constant demands for higher rates are to account for the rising costs of inflation. The reality, however, is that this is part of a pattern by CHI Memorial and their Chicago-based parent company, CommonSpirit. Together they are responsible for driving up health care costs, not just in Tennessee, but across the country.  

CHI Memorial’s demands come from a massive parent company looking to fund further expansion. The real cost? Your care. 

These demands for higher rates date back years and extend across multiple states. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas and Anthem BlueCross of California, as well as other insurance providers, such as Cigna and United Healthcare, have all previously had to negotiate with CommonSpirit to navigate exorbitant rate demands. These are nationally driven negotiations to cover CommonSpirit’s reported debts – and patients across the country are the ones who ultimately pay the price. Now they’re asking the same of Chattanoogans.  

CHI Memorial initially asked for a nearly 40% rate increase from BlueCross, representing about $70 million over the next three years. We understand the pandemic and inflation have impacted the finances of hospitals across the country – but these things have impacted people and businesses in the Chattanooga area, too. We must hold the line on affordability for our members – we cannot abide massive rate increases where Tennesseans are footing the bill. 

This is why we sought bids for a second health system in Network S. 

Our members deserve better. In a continued effort to advocate for affordability, we issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the second spot alongside Erlanger in Blue Network S, our local commercial plan for employers. Responses were due back at the beginning of March, and we’ll announce our decision in April. It’s important to note this RFP decision will not affect Medicare Advantage members. 

Following our selection for Network S, we still need CHI Memorial to agree to fair rates for our Network P, as well as our Medicare Advantage and BlueCare networks. The rates they have demanded so far are simply unacceptable for local employers and members. 

And CommonSpirit’s desire to get paid more is not an acceptable reason for our members’ health care options to suffer.