[In response to the letter to the editor “More Coverage Needed on ‘Off-market Health Plans,’” Dec. 18, Xpress:] Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is proud to offer Affordable Care Act plans in all 100 North Carolina counties. Despite losing more than $400 million during the first few years of the ACA, we remained committed to serving North Carolina even as most other insurers withdrew.
While we’re encouraged that the ACA market has stabilized enough that we have been able to lower premiums by almost 10% over the last two years, health care costs are still too high for many. One option that has become available is known as a “short-term policy.” With the rise in “off-market” options, it is important to understand what these plans do — and don’t — provide. These plans are not required to meet key federal requirements that ensure customers get the level of coverage they need over the long term.
Short-term policies are typically less expensive and allow customers more flexibility to mix and match things like prescription drug tiers or network options and are appropriate in certain circumstances. However, these policies often involve more risk than ACA-compliant plans. For example, they typically do not provide coverage for preexisting conditions. They may also not provide coverage for preventive care, mental health treatment, and maternal and newborn services.
The vast majority of ACA customers are eligible to receive federal tax credits or premium subsides. Short-term policies don’t qualify for subsidies. Under these plans, your coverage may also be capped if you develop a serious condition and hit your coverage limit.
At Blue Cross NC, our goal is always to ensure communities have access to high-quality, affordable care and to help our customers make the best decisions for themselves and their families. We have demonstrated our commitment to all North Carolinians by being the only ACA insurer to remain in the health insurance marketplace in all 100 counties. Our focus for 2020 and beyond is to provide insurance products that fit the needs of all individuals, families and businesses.
— Barbara Morales Burke
Vice President of Health Policy
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina