FARGO, N.D. (December 2, 2013)—Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND) announced today it has determined it is in the best interest of its members to move forward with discontinuing plans that do not comply with Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements in 2014. Recent announcements by the Obama Administration and the North Dakota Insurance Department created the possibility that these plans could be renewed in 2014.
"This is a complex issue, and when we broke it down and determined the overall impact on all our members – in the long-term and the short-term – we felt it was not in the best interests of our members to continue the non-grandfathered plans into 2014," said Paul von Ebers, BCBSND President and CEO. "We believe it would shift costs from one group of members to others, creating additional market uncertainty and exposing our members to new financial risk. We have and will continue to reach out to affected members to help them navigate the many new plans available on and off the Health Insurance Marketplace to find the best value to meet their needs."
Von Ebers noted a change of this magnitude so late in the year would lead to higher premiums and significant market disruptions in North Dakota through 2014 and beyond. When the ACA passed into law in 2010, the company determined any plan that did not comply could not be offered to members beginning in 2014. As such, BCBSND created, designed and priced ACA-compliant plans with the understanding that non-grandfathered plans would be discontinued.
"The federal government has left open the possibility that it may allow plans that are not ACA-compliant to continue past 2014," he said. "In that uncertain regulatory environment, we need to create stability for our members when it comes to rates and plan designs. Discontinuing the non-grandfathered plans is the best course of action to create certainty, and deliver clear options for our small group and individual members. Our members expect us to be good stewards of their resources."
This decision directly affects the coverage of approximately seven percent of BCBSND members; about half of those (three to four percent of total membership) will likely find greater benefit in coverage that complies with the ACA requirements, rather than staying on their current non-grandfathered plan.
Nationally, state insurance regulators and health insurance companies are evaluating the impact of this policy change and deciding what is in their stakeholders' best interests. Many have come to the same conclusion as BCBSND.
As health care reform continues to evolve, BCBSND is committed to providing its members with quality health insurance, along with the protection and customer service they've come to expect.
BCBSND has prepared members for the past several months of the upcoming changes, and members have and will receive letters that explain their new health insurance options. If BCBSND members have any questions about their current policy or how this announcement affects them, they are encouraged to call BCBSND Member Services at 800-342-4718.