In September, Anthem Blue Cross will be mailing members enrolled in California plans that their health insurance may not be renewed in 2014 as certain plans will be discontinued. Because Blue Cross is selling individual and family insurance through Covered California, the new health care reform insurance market place, they are not allowed to offer non ACA-compliant plans outside of the exchange. Individuals and families with Blue Cross health insurance that doesn’t mirror plans offered inside the exchange will have to select a new plan or enroll in a plan through Covered California.
Anthem Blue Cross will discontinue non ACA-compliant plans
Anthem Blue Cross is not the only health insurance company that will have to purge health insurance plans in California. Any health insurance company contracting with Covered California’s individual market place won’t be able to offer plans with fewer benefits and value as those offered under the ACA. Other carriers who are contracting with Covered California that maybe discontinuing individual plans include Blue Shield, Health Net, and Kaiser Permanente.
New plans may be less expensive, more benefits
While some of the plans being discontinued may have lower premiums because of fewer benefits, members in these plans may be eligible for Advance Premium Tax Credit to lower their monthly rate in a new plan. To qualify for the premium subsidy the health plan must be purchased through Covered California.
There may be no changes to your plan
The health insurance carriers will be offering similar plans outside of the exchange. Many of the health insurance plans offered in the last couple are very close, if not entirely, compliant with the ACA. Many plans had to upgrade as California required individual and family plans to enhance benefits and coverage in advance of health care reform implementation in 2014. Consequently, there might be very little disruption for individuals and families that purchased their policies in the last couple of years.
Anthem Blue Cross provided the following information in a communication with their appointed agents –
As a participant in the state’s Individual exchange, Anthem is required to discontinue non-ACA compliant, non-grandfathered Individual plans as of January 1, 2014. In September, we will communicate the following information to members on these plans (the information will be disseminated through two separate mailings which should arrive at approximately the same time):
- We can no longer renew their current plan and they need to choose a new plan. Due to their current non ACA-compliant plan being discontinued on January 1, 2014, they will have from October 1, 2013 to December 15, 2013 to select any ACA compliant plan for an effective date of January 1, 2014. If they do not select an ACA-compliant plan by December 15, 2013, Anthem will automatically transition them to an Anthem ACA-compliant off-exchange plan effective January 1, 2014.
- These members will also receive a notice regarding the initial ACA open enrollment that runs from October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.
The same options specified above will also be communicated to members on non-ACA compliant non-grandfathered guarantee issue plans.
In September, we will communicate to members on these plans that they can stay on their current grandfathered plans. They just need to keep paying their premiums. No other action is required. Or they can select any ACA-compliant plan during the initial ACA open enrollment that runs from October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.
The same options specified above will also be communicated to members on grandfathered guarantee issue plans.
Note: Grandfathered plans are those in effect on or before March 23, 2010 which your clients are still on. This also includes any of your clients who may have downgraded to a plan and still retained grandfathered status.
If you get a letter…
Don’t panic! Neither Anthem Blue Cross nor any other carrier is going to drop your coverage. If you make no decision, and your plan is being discontinued, they will just enroll you in a plan outside of the exchange that is similar to a plan they offer inside the exchange. Although, this would be a good opportunity to review coverage and see if you might qualify for the premium subsidy through Covered California. Another item to check is to make sure all your current physicians and other providers are in-network with any new plan the health insurance company may suggest you transition into.