Philadelphia, PA – Given the uncertainty among individual consumers about the changes in health care coverage required by the Affordable Care Act and the challenge many have faced trying to enroll through the online federal Marketplace, Independence Blue Cross (IBC) is offering options to roughly 24,000 individual policyholders that will simplify enrollment and avoid gaps in coverage.
In this time of unprecedented and constant change in health care, IBC is going the extra mile to help these individual members by offering additional information and new options that will continue access to affordable, quality health insurance. In the next few weeks, IBC will make outreach calls and send letters to these roughly 24,000 policyholders to explain these new options.
IBC is offering the roughly 6,300 policyholders currently enrolled in the Special CareSM health insurance plan the choice to keep their existing coverage until June 30, 2014. Special Care is a low-cost, limited-benefit policy for certain low income individuals. The plan was scheduled to be discontinued as of January 1, 2014, because it does not meet the essential health benefits required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Working in consultation with the Pennsylvania Insurance Department to preserve options and offer a safety net for these members, IBC is offering a six-month extension to give existing Special Care policyholders additional time to transition to plans that meet ACA requirements. At the same time, IBC is encouraging these members to explore whether they are eligible for financial assistance through tax credits and subsidies on the federal Health Insurance Marketplace.
However, offering the option to continue the Special Care plan for its current members will have an operational and financial impact on IBC. To cover these members for an additional six months, IBC will file a rate increase request with the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.
IBC will also ensure there will be no gap in coverage for the roughly 17,400 policyholders in the Guaranteed Enrollment plans. IBC is the only insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania that offers Guaranteed Enrollment plans, which provides health care coverage to all individuals regardless of their medical conditions.
IBC’s current Guaranteed Enrollment policies do not meet the requirements of the ACA, which mandates that all plans include new essential health benefits and other consumer protections. As a result, IBC’s existing Guaranteed Enrollment plans will be discontinued as of January 1, 2014. In most cases, premiums for the new IBC individual policies that meet ACA requirements are lower than the premiums for current Guaranteed Enrollment policies.
To ensure there is no gap in coverage during this transition, if a Guaranteed Enrollment policyholder does not select a plan on their own, IBC will enroll the policyholder in a new plan, based on their current benefits and monthly costs.
If these members would like to select a plan that is different than the recommended plan, or if they want to take advantage of federal financial assistance by enrolling in a plan through the federal Marketplace, these members can make their selection by calling IBC at 1-888-475-6182 by December 23, 2013.
For all small employer customers, IBC is continuing to offer coverage that meets the new requirements of the ACA. IBC is automatically enrolling these customers in new plans based on their current benefits and costs with coverage effective January 1, 2014, or the renewal date of the customer’s policy. IBC is offering the largest selection of plans for small businesses in the Philadelphia market: 37 plans in the Blue Solutions portfolio with a variety of benefits and premiums.