“We continue to cover people with all types of health conditions,” said Highmark spokeswoman Kristin Ash.
She said some policyholders who may have faced limited coverage for their medical conditions will get new plans with “richer benefits” and the policies “in most cases, will be at a lower rate.”
Paula Sunshine, vice president of marketing with Independence, said the insurer hopes the cancelled policyholders will “choose Blue when they decide on a new plan.”
Some receiving cancellations say it looks like their costs will go up, despite studies projecting that about half of all enrollees will get income-based subsidies.
Kris Malean, 56, lives outside Seattle, and has a health policy that costs $390 a month with a $2,500 deductible and a $10,000 in potential out-of-pocket costs for such things as doctor visits, drug costs or hospital care.
As a replacement, Regence BlueShield is offering her a plan for $79 more a month with a deductible twice as large as what she pays now, but which limits her potential out-of-pocket costs to $6,250 a year, including the deductible.
“My impression was ...there would be a lot more choice, driving some of the rates down,” said Malean, who does not believe she is eligible for a subsidy.
Regence spokeswoman Rachelle Cunningham said the new plans offer consumers broader benefits, which “in many cases translate into higher costs.”
“The arithmetic is inescapable,” said Patrick Johnston, chief executive officer of the California Association of Health Plans. Costs must be spread, so while some consumers will see their premiums drop, others will pay more -- “no matter what people in Washington say.”
Health insurance experts say new prices will vary and much depends on where a person lives, their age and the type of policy they decide to buy. Some, including young people and those with skimpy or high-deductible plans, may see an increase. Others, including those with health problems or who buy coverage with higher deductibles than they have now, may see lower premiums.
Blue Shield of California sent roughly 119,000 cancellation notices out in mid-September, about 60 percent of its individual business. About two-thirds of those policyholders will see rate increases in their new policies, said spokesman Steve Shivinsky.
Like other insurers, the Blue Shield letters let customers know they have to make a decision by Dec. 31 or they will automatically be enrolled in a recommended plan.
“There is going to be a certain amount of churn in the marketplace as people have to make their decisions,” Shivinsky said.
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communications organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
Fri, Oct 18 2013