Author Topic: Blue Cross letters scare some customers, but the outcome isn't always bad  (Read 378 times)

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Blue Cross letters scare some customers, but the outcome isn't always bad

Published: October 19, 2013 Updated 43 minutes ago

 By John Murawski —

Ann and Rodger Lenhardt were in for a jolt when they received their notice from Blue Cross Blue Shield recently. It said their monthly health insurance cost would triple – to $859.42 a month – next year.

Under closer inspection, however, the Lenhardts discovered a different story: By switching policies and taking advantage of federal subsidies, they will be able to offset most of their monthly premium costs, giving the farming couple highly discounted insurance.

About 160,000 Blue Cross customers in North Carolina have been receiving such insurance notices in recent weeks, prompting widespread anxiety among insurance customers who fear they’ll be priced out of the insurance market. The letters went out to Blue Cross customers who purchased individual policies after the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010; the new law mandates more generous coverage that older policies didn’t include.

Many of these Blue Cross customers will find financial relief with subsidies and cheaper policies, but some will not be able to avoid steep increases .

The Blue Cross notices do not explain how the rates were calculated. But the nation’s new health care law, by creating public insurance databases, offers a revealing glimpse into industry practices that for years had been tightly guarded corporate secrets.

The Lenhardts, who live in Chatham County, have the benefit of North Carolina’s lowest-cost insurance rates. As a result, the Lenhardts will have access to health coverage that can cost over $100 a month less than it costs to buy an an equivalent Blue Cross policy in adjoining Harnett County, which happens to be attached to an area with some of the state’s most expensive health insurance rates.

“I may end up being one of the winners in this situation,” said Ann Lenhardt, an elderberry farmer in Pittsboro. “I’m going to end up with much better insurance than I used to have.”

Under the new law, more than 1 million North Carolinians are expected to shop for health insurance or face fines for lack of coverage.

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