BlueCross BlueShield cuts negatively impact small business

August 2, 2023 6:00 am
The downtown Memphis, Tenn. skyline. (Photo: Getty Images)

The downtown Memphis, Tenn. skyline. (Photo: Getty Images)

It is a great time to be in business in Memphis. The city has rebounded nicely from the Covid-19 pandemic, recapturing jobs and pushing the economy forward with the growth of gross domestic product and new economic development prospects. As an entrepreneur growing a business here, I can say the buzz in the city is palpable.

It is also more competitive than ever here when it comes to recruiting and retaining employees. A trusted health insurance program is a difference maker when it comes to building a quality team. That’s why business owners should take note of the troubling facts behind the recent BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (BCBST) and Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare standoff.

The situation between the Bluff City’s largest hospital and BCBST made statewide news, and the two sides found a middle ground. As our state’s leading health insurance provider, BCBST plays a crucial role in providing healthcare coverage to businesses and individuals throughout Tennessee. Yet, BCBST did what it has done to other medical providers in the state, cutting Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare from its network over price disputes. 

BlueCross BlueShield is Tennessee's largest provider of health insurance.
BlueCross BlueShield is Tennessee’s largest provider of health insurance.

These cuts have been far-reaching — if you or someone you know has not been directly impacted by them, you have likely heard about the BCBST network cuts in the news, as have many of the job candidates considering moving to our great state for employment. 

Understandably, it puts a blight on many of the other great aspects of Tennessee when you read that, in an effort to increase profits, the state’s leading health insurance provider has caused one of its terminally ill patients to be kicked off of a transplant list. Or if you hear directly from another patient that depends on BCBST that the provider’s cuts have caused their life to go “haywire.”  

I have also seen how over the past few months, the network cuts imposed by BCBST have had a significant negative impact on businesses in Tennessee, making it increasingly challenging for us to recruit and retain talented employees who feel that BCBST does not provide them the access they need when it comes to visiting the doctors they trust or getting the treatment they need for a chronic illness. 

I can’t blame any job candidates that express concern about these cuts and the impact that it is having on the benefits that Tennessee businesses can provide, but from a business perspective, this issue couldn’t come at a worse time.

Over the past few years, cities across Tennessee have gained recognition nationally for the quality of life and affordability that they offer. As the pandemic has sparked migration from coastal areas, Tennessee has been a primary state that has benefitted, welcoming high-quality, well-trained workers and adding about 83,000 residents between 2021 and 2022 according to the Census Bureau.

Unfortunately, these network cuts threaten to ruin that progress. 

These cuts are handcuffing the growth of businesses across Tennessee, and the state economy more broadly. For the sake of patients and businesses across our state, it is crucial that BCBST sees the negative impact of its actions and changes course.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Rafi Chowdhury
Rafi Chowdhury

Rafi Chowdhury is the founder of Chowdhury's Digital, an HR company dedicated to assisting professionals in their career search and development. Currently, he is pursuing his master’s degree in Cognitive Psychology at Harvard University.