Blue Cross Blue Shield of IL changes

If you have health insurance coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL), you need to read this.  Disclaimer:  I have coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield, but I will be switching soon as a result of this information.

BCBSIL delivered information to agents/brokers that disclosed how they will be transitioning into the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  They had separate information for individual and small group policies (less than 150 persons).  The biggest effect is on individual policies.

Individual policies:  Existing major medical policy holders will be required to make a choice to one of the new Public or Private Exchange plans between October 1 and December 15 in order to have new coverage effective Jan 1 2014.  Your existing coverage/plan is going away.  Also, from September through the end of the year, BCBSIL will not be taking new applications for major medical coverage except for the new ACA plans.  If you need coverage and absolutely want BCBSIL, you will only be able to obtain a short term policy to bridge you to the beginning of next year.  Existing policy holders will receive a postcard stating that they need to make a decision for their new coverage/plan sometime in the next few weeks.

Small groups:  Small groups will have a much better option.  They will be able to choose a new anniversary date of December 2013 and carry their current coverage through next year or choose a new ACA plan.

Starting Jan 1 of next year, all new major medical policies, regardless of the company issuing the policy, must comply with all the new coverage requirements.  From now until the end of the year, different health insurance companies are handling it differently in Illinois.

Why is this important news?  It is well documented (look up the KFF calculator to see for yourself) that the new ACA plans will cost much more than the current plans.  BCBSIL is not giving their customers a choice in whether to keep their current policy in place for 2014 while other insurance companies like Assurant and United Healthcare (UHC) are allowing policies issued through the end of the year to be kept in place through 2014.  BCBSIL says that they are being forced into this decision by the Illinois Department of Insurance.  Why aren’t Assurant and UHC being forced to do the same thing?  I suspect it is because BCBSIL will be part of the public exchange while Assurant and UHC are not for 2014.

So what does this mean for you?  Get educated!  Some people will be better off selecting new health insurance on the public exchange because their government subsidy will be enough to make the new insurance less expensive.  While people with MAGI less than 400% of the FPL will receive a subsidy, I have found that people with 300% or less will have insurance less expensive than their current coverage.  This is about 70k per year for a family of 4 and around 34k for individuals.  Also, if you have BCBSIL, don’t wait to look at your options.  Things change.  Currently, some insurance companies will continue to sell the current, less expensive policies through the end of the year which will stay in place through the end of 2014, but things could change.  BCBSIL implies that they believe that other insurance companies will be unable to continue to sell their current policies after October 1 referring to an Illinois Department of Insurance decision.

Let me help you determine your options.  Please call me so I can help you evaluate your options.  I will be happy to provide you the information so you can make an informed decision.

A few more disclaimers:  This is only for BCBS of IL.  Yes, Illinois only.  Also, I am an agent for BCBSIL and a current policy holder.  I have nothing against BCBSIL and feel they have been forced into this position especially since they are handling small groups much differently, but that is only a guess based on the information I have been provided.

I am here to help.  Again, more to come…


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