Posts Tagged ‘Blue Cross Blue Shield’

Blue Cross Blue Shield Will Offer Exchange Plans in All Florida Counties

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Florida’s health insurance exchange will open for business on October 1 of this year, with plans taking effect next January 1.  The health insurance exchanges will offer more coverage options to Americans who couldn’t afford health insurance before.  That is the idea at least.  Florida Blue’s Joe Gregor does believe that consumers will have more affordable options and less difficulty finding health insurance when the Affordable Care Act takes full effect.  According to the Orlando Sentinel’s “More details emerge on Florida health insurance exchange,” Marni Jameson said that we now know how many insurers will offer plans in each Florida county.  It’s actually not as many as you might expect, with some counties only having one insurer offering plans.  Blue Cross Blue Shield will be the lone insurer in some of the more rural counties, but they assure Floridians that their prices reflect expected competition and not the fact that they are the sole option in some places.

Ten insurance companies were federally approved to offer plans in Florida, some in one county and some in many of Florida’s 67 counties.  Aetna Life Insurance Company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Cigna Health & Life Insurance Company, Coventry Health Care of Florida Inc., Florida Health Care Plan Inc., Health First Health Plans, Health First Insurance Company, Health Options Inc., Humana Medical Plan Inc., and Molina Health Care of Florida Inc. are the ten approved companies.  Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida will be the only insurance company offering affordable coverage in all 67 counties.  The big counties in South Florida like Miami-Dade and Broward will have nine different choices, but which insurers are operating in which counties has yet to be released.  Palm Beach county residents will have eight insurance choices and most Central Florida counties have five or six different options from which to choose.

Each insurance company will offer different tiers of plans that will range from bronze to platinum.  The lower plans will obviously offer less coverage than the highest plans, but you can choose what you need for the price you will be able to afford.  The government is offering credits to Americans with certain income levels to help pay for the cost of their mandated health insurance.  In order to receive any government help with health insurance though, you have to choose from the federally approved plans.  In 21 counties in Florida, Blue Cross Blue Shield or Florida Blue as they operate in the state, will be the only insurance exchange option.  Other counties will have more choices.  But each county will have at least one insurance company operating in it, something that some state have not yet been able to accomplish.  If you live in Florida and are looking to purchase health insurance through the new exchange soon, you should have some affordable options for coverage.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Rate Increase in Rhode Island

Friday, March 18th, 2011

According to The Providence Journal in Rhode Island, insurance rates from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island are going up.  Richard Salit’s article “State approves reduced health insurance rate hike” says that the Health Insurance Commissioner of Rhode Island approved a rate increase of 1.9% for consumers purchasing their health insurance directly from Blue Cross Blue Shield.  Although an increase is still an increase, the percentage could have been much higher.  Blue Cross had requested an increase of 7.9%, which could have financially impacted many in the state.  They are the only health insurance company that residents not eligible for employer or government health coverage can use.

Rhode Island’s Health Commissioner said that he worked hard to find a balance between keeping insurance rates low for consumers while still maintaining solvency for Blue Cross Blue Shield.  He didn’t want to hurt the company while helping consumers or vice versa.  Since Rhode Island residents cannot compare health insurance quotes from different companies, the state feels an obligation to protect their consumers from unnecessary rate hikes.  While they didn’t approve Blue Cross’s initial request, the company was able to process a rate increase that the Commissioner believes is fair to everyone.

Blue Cross is not happy with this outcome however.  A spokesperson for the company said that their 7.9% request was justified by numbers and that the company has been diligent in reducing their expenses.  They have even cut administrative costs by $15 million.  The Direct Pay customers’ rate increases will go into effect on April 1, but there is always the possibility that Blue Cross will appeal the decision made by the Commissioner.  He defends the smaller rate increase, however, by stating that Direct Pay customers are very vulnerable to insurance companies so he must protect them.

AskBlue Discusses Health Insurance Rates Based on Reform

Friday, January 14th, 2011

According to company news release “BCBSA Introduces AskBlue Healthcare Reform,” Blue Cross Blue Shield Association now has an online tool to help customers understand health care reform.  The tool, called AskBlue Healthcare Reform, is available for use by both individuals and employers.  The interactive tool is meant to help BCBSA’s customers understand how the health care laws will effect their plans and what options they have.

After consumers answer a few questions on the website, they receive personalized information regarding the health care reform.  The simple program tells consumers how the reform changes will personally effect them and their insurance plans.  They can see how health insurance rates may change and compare their plans before and after health care reform.  There is also access to further information on government websites for those interested.

Business information is available as well, including a calculator to see if businesses will qualify for a tax credit related to their health care expenses.  Businesses can also learn how health care reform will impact them financially in other ways.  You don’t even have to be a BCBSA customer to access their AskBlue services.  In addition to the AskBlue Healthcare Reform, BCBSA offers AskBlue, which gives information to uninsured consumers, AskBlue En Espanol, and AskBlue Medicare.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Issuing Refunds

Friday, October 29th, 2010

The new health law that went into effect on March 23 is causing Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina to dole out $156 million in refunds to its customers.  USA Today’s article by Alison Young, “Blue Cross to refund $156 million in N.C.,” speculates that other insurers in other states may be doing the same.  North Carolina’s health insurance regulators have been looking into its insurers’ practices deeply since the government’s new health care law in March and found that their insurers need to make some changes.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina recently requested approval to increase the rates they charge their customers.  It was determined that the company was building up reserves in order to finance claims that it will need to pay in 2014 and beyond, when many more changes to the health care law will go into effect.  If you compare health insurance today to what it will look like in 2014, there will be many differences.

As a result of this inquiry, 215,000 individual policyholders in North Carolina will be getting refunds by the end of this year.  The reserves system was not put into place for group plans so they are not effected by this refund.  Average policyholders can expect to receive around $690 each.  Reserves were collected in the beginning of a policy being issued to help keep the premium costs even throughout the life of the plan, but the new health care law doesn’t allow insurance to work that way.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is looking into whether this is a larger issue that needs to be addressed nationally.

Highmark Collaborates with Blue Cross Blue Shield

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware (BCBSD) is now working closely with Highmark Inc. of Pennsylvania.  According to Blue Cross Blue Shield’s press release “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware Announces Affiliation Agreement with Highmark Inc.,” this business relationship will strengthen the cost-effectiveness of the two companies.  It will also allow Blue Cross Blue Shield to bring Delaware residents some new products and services.

BCBSD has been working for four years on new corporate planning techniques to save money while remaining a competitive and leading force in the local marketplace.  By working closely with Highmark, BCBSD will remain a non-profit organization while enhancing their operations in a cost effective way.  As it has gotten harder for small, independent companies to stay competitive because of cost increases in the medical field, affiliations like this will probably become more common.

Once the Delaware Department of Insurance finishes their approval process, the two companies will be able to work together on investments towards new systems and other business capabilities.  Compare health insurance costs and they will be better positioned to keep customers happy by sharing investment expenses and capital requirements.  They will reduce administrative costs by sharing not only costs but current capabilities and systems that the other may not have.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Helps Small Businesses

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Blue Cross Blue Shield announced on it’s website that Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia has 25 new health insurance plans that will really help small businesses with 2 to 50 employees.  The press release, “Independence Blue Cross Unveils New Health Plan Options for Small Businesses,” describes the Blue Solutions plans that became available on October 1.  Blue Solutions are available as HSA plans, or Health Savings Accounts, copay, and deductible plans.  All of them have prescription drug coverage included as well.  Many people who did not previously have access to HSAs will now, which is crucial as these types of insurance plans skyrocket in popularity.

HSAs are a great way for employers and employees to receive quality health care in an affordable way.  Either or both make contributions to this account that pays for health expenses.  Since consumers are paying for the health care needs until meeting their deductible HSAs are having a positive effect with people living healthier lifestyles and taking control over their health.  There are many tax advantages when you compare health insurance with an HSA.  Employers consider contributions business expenses for tax purposes and employees reduce their taxable income by contributing to the account.  Any interest earned is free of taxes when used for qualifying expenses and reimbursed medical expenses that qualify are also tax free.

The Blue Solutions plans comply with all of the recent health care reform changes that are taking place currently and into the future.  They also have a wide array of options within the plans such as choosing HMO, PPO, High-Deductible and other plans.  Employers and employees have the option for any type of coverage they desire, depending on how much they are willing and able to spend.  Promoting healthier lifestyles is important to Blue Cross Blue Shield so they have added Healthy Lifestyles components like gym membership reimbursement and help to cover the expense of quitting smoking.  There is a Blue Solutions plan available to meet anyone’s needs.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI Insures the Uninsured

Friday, August 27th, 2010

According to “RI Blue Cross opens plan for the sick, uninsured,” Felice Freyer of The Providence Journal says that this new program could be just what many Rhode Islanders were hoping for.  The money for the program comes from federal health care reform money.  Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island was selected by the state to run this plan for uninsured residents who have pre-existing chronic illnesses.  The plan is called the Pre-existing Condition Plan for Rhode Island and Blue Cross Blue Shield has already started the application process.

There are 34 pre-existing conditions covered by the plan including diabetes, cancer, asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, kidney disease, and pulmonary disease.  Blue Cross is using $13 million of federal money to run this program for the uninsured.  Individuals must not only have one of the included pre-existing conditions, but must also have been uninsured for 6 months or more.  It’s possible that other states will come out with similar plans for companies like Humana to run with federal health care funds.

While the program will be limited to the $13 million one time fund, this is meant to bridge the gap until 2014 when federal law changes to require insurance companies to cover the uninsured.  Rhode Island actually already requires companies to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions, but the steep cost of coverage makes it impossible for some people to pay for it.  Receiving subsidies from this new Blue Cross program should help many Rhode Islanders obtain insurance coverage for their chronic conditions.

Compare Health Insurance with New Medicare Option

Friday, August 20th, 2010

You have a new choice for Medicare plans in Alabama as of a few months ago.  According to a press release from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, “Alabamians Have Access to a New Medicare Select Plan.”  The Medicare C Plus plan has been available to eligible residents of Alabama ever since Medicare came about in 1966.  The new plan option, C Plus Plan F, covers even more than the original C Plus plan.

The added coverage with C Plus Plan F includes the Part B deductible of $155 and any emergency care outside of the United States that is deemed medically necessary.  It will also cover the $137.50 per day copayment in a skilled nursing facility for days 21-100.  Plan F does require all plan holders to pay their premiums for Medicare Part B.

The rising costs when you compare health insurance can be helped by these Medicare options.  Combining the C Plus Plan F with a prescription drug program from Medicare like Blue Rx will help protect consumers from unexpected medical costs.  You can also budget for your annual medical expenses better with a combination Plan F and Medicare Part D plan.  Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is there to answer any consumer questions about this new Medicare option.