CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Today Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) offered new projections of what rates will look like for individual market customers under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). After new federal subsidies and grandfathered plans are factored in, the company expects about two-thirds of its individual market customers to see rate increases similar to those of recent years or decreases in 2014. The remaining one-third of individual market customers will see larger increases because of the ACA. These rate changes come because several of the ACA’s new requirements will be implemented Jan. 1, 2014.
“Beginning next year, individuals who buy their own health insurance will feel a wide variety of impacts as new components of the ACA take full effect,” said Patrick Getzen, BCBSNC vice president and chief actuary. “The ACA expands access to coverage and increases benefits. This is a good goal, but it comes with a cost. Subsidies will offset the higher cost of premiums for some of our customers, but more sick people in the insurance pool, more benefits, and new taxes and fees will drive rates up.”
The most sweeping changes to the insurance market for 2014 include:
Guaranteed issue – Individuals are required to buy insurance or pay a penalty, and insurers are required to accept all applicants.
Essential health benefits – All insurance policies must include new, richer benefits along with minimum coverage levels.
Changes in ways premiums are determined – New rating rules change the way insurers will calculate rates for each customer.
New taxes and fees – The ACA introduces eight new taxes and fees that will directly impact customer premiums.
“Health care reform’s impact on premiums will look different for everyone,” said Getzen. “We are focused on helping our individual market customers determine what these changes mean for them, and what the best coverage options are moving forward.”
BCBSNC also announced that rates for customers in the small group market will increase an average of 17.9 percent in 2014. These customers will see less rate impact than many individual market customers because several key ACA provisions, including guaranteed issue, already exist within the small group market.
To learn more about how the ACA will affect North Carolinians, visit NCHealthReform.com, BCBSNC’s hub for information about the ACA. The site also includes tools to help customers navigate how they will be affected in 2014, including a video that explains the ACA’s effects.
About BCBSNC: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.74 million members, including approximately 1 million served on behalf of other Blue Plans. For generations, the company has served its customers by offering health insurance at a competitive price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina was recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute in 2012 and 2013. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit BCBSNC online at bcbsnc.com. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.