STAT, November 13, 2017
Erin Mershon


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[...] Some 25,400 people in Tennessee have the kind of plan Yates was trying to get — what the company calls a “traditional” health plan.

It’s an apt description — this style of insurance would be familiar to consumers who shopped for their own plans in the days before Obamacare. The company flatly excludes anyone with an especially pricey health condition, like Yates’s diabetes. Its rates are based on a person’s age, tobacco use, and other health status indicators — and sick people, when they do get coverage, pay higher rates. Maternity coverage costs extra, and doesn’t kick in right away.

The application — much longer than’s — asks about cholesterol and glucose levels, recent bouts with cancer, stroke, heart attack, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s, among other diseases. Maximum out-of-pocket costs are higher, too.

Despite Obamacare’s strict rules against these practices, Farm Bureau can still sell those plans — because under Tennessee statute, it’s technically not considered an insurance company and thus not subject to insurance regulation or oversight. [...]

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