Today Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) filed a rate request with the North Carolina Department of Insurance (DOI) for an average rate increase of 9.94 percent for individual products including Blue Advantage, Blue Options HSASM and Blue SaverSM. Blue Saver, Blue Advantage and Blue Options HSAcurrently serve more than 365,000 customers under the age of 65.
“The premium rate increase for individual products reflects the past year’s increase of the underlying cost of health care services and growth in certain procedures,” said BCBSNC Chief Actuary Patrick Getzen.
If approved by the Department of Insurance, more than 220,000 or 61 percent of BCBSNC individual product customers would see premium increases of 10 percent or less. More than 4,000 customers would see a decrease in their premiums.
The Blue Advantage PPO is BCBSNC’s traditional co-pay-based health plan for individuals. Blue Options HSA and Blue Saver are high-deductible plans that offer customers lower monthly premiums. Blue Options HSA may be paired with a tax deductible Health Savings Account, which customers use to pay their out of pocket expenses. Blue Options HSA and Blue Saver products cover preventive care at 100 percent with no cost sharing. “Sick” visits, specialist visits and visits to urgent care centers or emergency rooms are all subject to customers’ coinsurance and deductible.
Cost, use of services drive premiums
“The cost and use of medical services are the primary factors that drive premium rates,” said Getzen. “We are seeing increased use of services in both inpatient and outpatient care and the cost of services continues to rise significantly more than the rate of inflation.”
Medical procedures showing a significant increase this past year include heart disease and knee and hip replacement procedures.
Any premium changes to individual products must be approved by the DOI. Following DOI approval, Blue Advantage and Blue Options HSA/Blue Saver customers will receive a letter from BCBSNC in October telling them what their specific rate changes will be for 2013. Customers may choose to make changes to their health plan, deductible, co-pay or co-insurance to reduce their premiums.
BCBSNC has a number of initiatives underway to improve quality while reining in medical costs. To learn more about these efforts, visit www.LetsTalkCost.com
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 3.6 million members, including approximately 900,000 served on behalf of other Blue Plans. For 78 years, 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 named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute in 2012. 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.