While about another development, buried in this San Francisco Chronicle story published today is a revealing disclosure by Janice Rocco, deputy commissioner of the California Department of Insurance. Rocco told the Chronicle Blue Shield of California will have only three individual insurance plans open for enrollment after it closes nearly two dozen existing plans next month. Rocco is quoted as saying the insurer is seeking approval from the Golden State’s managed care plan regulator, the Department of Managed Health Care, to nearly double the number of managed care plans to 20.
This development is counter to the market trend of the previous decade in which individual market consumers shifted out of more comprehensive and costlier managed care plans to cheaper, high deductible insurance plans overseen by the Department of Insurance. Blue Shield could be preparing to offer richer, lower deductible managed care plans that can meet the essential health benefit requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in order to potentially qualify them for the California Health Benefit Exchange in 2014. Blue Shield’s shuttering of the nearly two dozen individual insurance plans is likely due to their falling into the death spiral of adverse selection.
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