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Health Team

Blue Cross seeks higher rates for revived health plans

Posted November 19, 2013

— Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina formally asked state regulators Tuesday to resurrect health plans that were to be canceled because they don't meet minimum requirements under the Affordable Care Act.

The move would come at significant cost to consumers, however, as the insurer is seeking rate increases of 16 to 23 percent on the plans.

President Barack Obama last week granted a one-year exemption for such plans after an outcry from people who said their insurance was being canceled despite his repeated assurances that people who liked their coverage would be able to keep it under the new health care law.

More than 473,000 people in North Carolina were affected by the cancellations, including 227,400 Blue Cross customers, according to the state Department of Insurance.

Blue Cross President and Chief Executive Brad Wilson said reviving the plans provides customers "an additional option to consider as they weigh their health insurance choices for 2014."

"We absolutely feel like our customers are looking for another option. We're glad to be able to do that," said Barbara Morales Burke, Blue Cross' vice president of health policy.

The company said the higher rates reflect new taxes and fees under the Affordable Care Act, as well as the price of care and amount of medical services used by customers in those plans.

Blue Cross sign Blue Cross blames higher rates on medical costs, new taxes

"Primarily, it's medical costs – the claims, a combination of increase in price of services, increase in utilization of these services," Morales Burke said in explaining the request for rate increases.

Blue Cross plans to mail revised renewal notices to eligible customers by Dec. 1, officials said. People can still shop around for other coverage, such as buying a plan through the federal online health exchange, where they estimate 40 percent of North Carolinians would qualify for federal subsidies to help pay premiums.

"We're waiting for the improvements (to the exchange) that the federal government has indicated will be made by the end of November," Morales Burke said. "So, in terms of functionality of it, we're just looking forward to seeing those improvements."

470 Comments

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  • Sally1023 Nov 25, 11:47 a.m.

    GREED! Have you ever filed a claim w/BCBS NC by yourself? First off the claim is ALWAYS delined and mailed back to you. For me, it took an hour long phone calls, plus multiple hold times once a month to get every claim straight and I eventually recieved 100% of the claim. I am blessed to have a good education and determination, but sadly my guess is many give up when they get the rejection and that money stays with BCBS NC, money their subscribers are rightly due. For a not for porfit organnization making a profit of $12.2 billion in 2011 and their top management making millions and then in 2012 when there was a slight dip in "profits" senior management still receiving over 1 million dollars in bonuses each is exceedingly greedy and obscene. NC needs to embrass and welcome a large volume of competition in health care. Why can we have all the car and home insurance options we need, but we are stuck with less than reputable tactics processing health claims? My story is not unique.

  • misschris234 Nov 21, 9:34 a.m.

    "Chicken has gone up to $14.00 for just three breast."- Barb

    I would have passed out too! Where in the world are you shopping that has 3 chicken breasts for $14??? I buy organic and have never paid more than $9... and the non-organic, no more than $7... go to Lowe's this week... BOGO, get 2 packs for about 6-7 bucks.

  • barbstillkickin Nov 21, 8:41 a.m.

    Higher Rates. You have got to be kidding me. This is terrible. My husband works for this horrible state and he has to pay over $550.00 a month just o insure me. So NOBODY BETTER EVER TELL ME STATE EMPLOYEES GOT IT MADE. They made a huge profit last year so why raise rates. Everything is going up but PAY husband has not seen a raise for 6 years and then it was 1%. Chicken has gone up to $14.00 for just three breast. I almost passed out. Got to love all you Obama fans. He is behind all this bad stuff so enjoy your great President.

  • mep Nov 20, 5:39 p.m.

    BCBS does not have a monopoly on health insurance in NC. Spend your money with Cigna (junks favorite), United, Humana, Aetna, Coventry.... you have choices!" - MEP

    Not with 2014 policies you don't.

    I tried shopping all other carriers for a new policy since my BCBS got cancelled, and the Obama approved replacement was going to be 106% more.

    The other carriers' 2014 plans are even higher, or they have such a restricted network they are useless.

    It is the Obama requirements starting in 2014 that effect ALL policies (not grandfathered or waivered) that are making the rates double and triple.

    Obama has ruined the individual marketplace, and now compels us to buy or pay a fine. If you have to supply your own insurance you are hosed...
    foodstamptrader

    GREAT POST... even more reasons to get the govt out of health care! My BCBS is up 50% next year and it is still the cheapest!
    Woo hoo!!!

  • What if_I could Nov 20, 5:12 p.m.

    This is were ObamaCare needs to start....with insurance and drug companies. BCBS pays the ridiculous bonsus' and people can barely pay insurance.

  • misschris234 Nov 20, 5:06 p.m.

    EA,"Due to its not-for-profit status, BCBSNC is often thought of as a non-taxable entity; however, we are a fully-taxed company, having incurred nearly $160 million in local, state and federal taxes in 2010 alone. New ACA insurer taxes will add considerably to that total. While it is impossible to perfectly predict BCBSNC’s market-share years from now, we estimate that our share of the fee in 2014 will be approximately $68.5 million. With a long-range profit margin of just 3.5 to 4.5 cents per dollar of revenue, which we depend on to fund investments necessary to improve our products and service, BCBSNC will have to pass along its share of the new ACA taxes in the form of higher premiums. Because the new fees are non-deductible, BCBSNC will have to use an estimated $107.5 million of premiums in 2014 to cover the amount for which we are responsible. To generate that $107.5 million in new revenue, premiums for BCBSNC insured customers would increase by up to an additional 3.0 percent

  • exteacher Nov 20, 5:05 p.m.

    All you people screaming about your rates you do understand exactly WHY they are going up, right? Health care costs continue to soar, more and more tests being ordered, more drugs being prescribed. Do you all think everything is supposed to be FREE? Don't answer that, because I am afraid what the answer might be. Have you paid any attention to the things BCBS is trying to do to lower costs, like not allowing your doctor to gouge you for x-ray charges (for example)? Doctors were charging a FULL fee for EACH x-ray they read (if you had 3 x-rays you were charged 3 set-up charges, 3 times for the room, and 3 times for the reading). Millions of dollars saved on just that one item, and who pushed back on it? The DOCTORS and the HOSPITALS!!! You people also need to do your research into what all you are having to pay for. There are EIGHT new items covered under the ACA, along with new taxes. Do you think BCBS should be paying those taxes and fees?

  • European American Nov 20, 5:01 p.m.

    AIn't life grand you liberal supporters. Ain't it grand. NoTimeForStupidity

    Oh the irony! Might want to learn what "ain't" means.

  • srichmond63 Nov 20, 4:59 p.m.

    Finally, a winner with the new healthcare law...
    Let's clear this up
    Hospital sends a bill to Medicare or Medicaid, pay 1,000 dollars for services rendered. Government says no. We will pay 350.00 if you do not accept this as payment in full, we will refuse all medicare and medicaid patients to come to your hospital. Now, the hospital looking at a high volume of their business agrees and accepts approximately one third the total bill as payment. Then comes the bill to the insurance company ...1,000 dollars for services rendered and the insurance company...seeing the volume of their clients does the same as the government and it works. They, too pay approximately one third the bill. Then, I walk in and I am on my own. I get my bill for 1,000 dollars and guess what? I pay 1,000 dollars. The uninsured aren't the ones not paying their bill. They are the only ones that do. This is the way it works. So all of the misinformation about uninsured driving up the cost of health care is just that..

  • Billy the Kid Nov 20, 4:59 p.m.

    "If the plans didn't meet the minimum requirement of the ACA, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say they're bad plans. Too bad people don't realize that and are happy to continue to throw their money away on overpriced, inadequate healthcare, like we've been doing for decades."

    Because a 70 year old couple needs maternity coverage.

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