Blue Cross in Alabama: We didn’t ‘cancel’ health policies– we ‘transitioned’ them under Obamacare.
What’s in a word?
At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama the word ‘cancel’ is just wrong.
At least when the word is used to describe what happened to the policies of 87,000 BCBS customers who are losing their old coverage and being offered policies that comply with the Affordable Care Act.
“We did not cancel any of the individuals or families under these plans,” said BCBS spokeswoman Koko Mackin in a recent email exchange with Alabama Media Group.
The reporter was asking how many of the 87,000 customers were going to see a rate hike starting Jan. 1. That’s when policyholders must have policies compliant with the Affordable Care Act. It’s a process at Blue Cross that does not involve canceling but rather transitioning, Mackin wrote.
“To ensure our customers do not experience any gap in coverage, we have transitioned them to plans that most closely mirror their existing coverage and are compliant with the provisions of the Affordable Care Act,” she said.
Does this mean that the policy an individual has in 2013 is the same policy being offered for 2014?
“No,” Mackin answered. “The new policies for 2014 meet the requirements of the ACA.”
So they are, indeed, “new policies” just as described in BCBS’ letter to the 87,000 policyholders.
“We will offer new individual and family health plans,” the letter tells policyholders.
“Your current plan does not meet all of the new Affordable Care Act benefit requirements,” the letter states.
So if they weren’t canceled, what happened to those current plans?
“Canceled,” Mackin wrote, “carries the connotation that coverage has been terminated and that they do not have coverage, which is not the case. Their policies are being transitioned to coverage that is compliant with the Affordable Care Act. Not one of the 87,000 policyholders was canceled or experienced a break in service.”
But some policyholders can’t afford their new policies because the rates went up — two and three times as much in some cases that have been reported.
Canceled or not, the 2013 policies with lower rates are not available anymore.
And that brings it back to the original questions for BCBS:
How many policyholders in the group of 87,000 will see an increase in premiums? And what is the average rate hike?
Those questions remain unanswered.