- Blue Cross NC lowered Its requested rate increase from 22.9 percent to 14.1 percent
- Premium subsides are available to qualifying customers with expiring grandfathered plans
- Blue Cross NC remains only insurer to offer ACA plans in all 100 counties
DURHAM, NC – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) announced today that the North Carolina Department of Insurance has approved the company’s reduced premium rate request for 2018 Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans. The approved average rate of 14.1 percent was lowered from the initially requested 22.9 percent in August due to the stabilization of the state’s individual market. Blue Cross NC will remain the only insurer to offer ACA plans in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties.
“Blue Cross NC is proud to be offering ACA plans in all 100 counties next year – and to offer them with a lower premium increase than we initially thought would be required,” said Gary Bolt, Vice President of the Individual Under 65 Segment for Blue Cross NC. “But the fact remains that health care costs too much. We understand that a premium increase of any amount is difficult for many of our customers. That is why we are working with our partners across the health care industry to slow down rising costs. Higher quality, more affordable health care remains our ultimate goal.”
Blue Cross NC currently insures 502,000 people through ACA plans. The 14.1 percent rate increase is an average across all ACA plans. Some customers may be impacted more than others. Federal tax credits known as premium subsides will also increase to help customers pay for the increased rates. Customers purchasing their own coverage with income levels between 100 percent and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level qualify for subsides. Roughly 90 percent of Blue Cross NC customers who are enrolled in individual ACA plans receive a subsidy.
Customers with expiring grandfathered plans could see significant premium increases. In most cases, the ACA plans will cover more services than the grandfathered plans, but this coverage will be more expensive. However, people transitioning from grandfathered plans to ACA plans may now qualify for premium subsides to help offset the increased cost.
Blue Cross NC has about 50,000 customers with expiring grandfathered plans in the individual market, down from more than 330,000 in 2010. Those with expiring plans can shop for a new ACA plan at www.bcbsnc.com/RenewBlue. Grandfathered plans are plans that people had before the ACA was enacted that do not meet ACA requirements.
Blue Cross NC will continue to offer transitional plans in 2018. Transitional plans are plans purchased by individuals between March 2010, when the ACA was signed into law, and Oct. 2013. These plans do not meet ACA requirements, but are permitted by federal law. The plans cannot be sold to new customers.
Last week’s executive order from President Trump ending cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurers does not impact 2018 premiums. However, ending these federal reimbursements will drive up premium costs and make it harder for insurers to participate in the ACA marketplace in the long run. Had CSR payments not been eliminated, Blue Cross NC’s final rate request for ACA customers’ average would have been near zero; however, most customers receiving premium assistance will see that assistance rise in 2018 to offset the higher increase that was needed.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina improves the health and well-being of our customers and communities through innovative health care products, insurance, services and information to more than 3.6 million members, including approximately 1 million served on behalf of other Blue Plans. Since 1933, we have worked to make North Carolina a better place to live through our support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit Blue Cross online at bcbsnc.com. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.