Covered California health insurance premiums are soaring. Why? A partial and probable cause is that Anthem Blue Cross of California is leaving the Bay Area. The reason given by the insurer is a “shrinking individual market as well as continual changes”.
Federal uncertainty as to the future of health care coverage is undoubtedly the “continual changes” source the insurer gives for its exit from the California Bay Area.
The reduced competition in the insurance market as a result of Anthem Blue Cross exiting certain counties could contribute to the 12.5% rate hike for 2018 anticipated by the state’s health exchange. Of the 1.4 million enrollees in Covered California, 19% have been customers of Anthem Blue Cross, many of whom live in the heavily populated Bay Area.
In 2018 the insurer plans to restrict coverage to include only Santa Clara County, parts of the Central Valley, and portions of Northern California, heavily affecting the individual insurance market. Those insured through their employer, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, or Medi-Cal remain unaffected.
One challenge for those previously insured by Anthem Blue Cross is retaining co-pay rates for essential pharmaceuticals. Insurers have varied rates or may not cover certain drugs. For those with complex or life-threatening conditions, changing doctors under a new insurer could also be a challenge.
Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield sells plans on Obamacare exchanges in 14 states. The insurer confirms it is also leaving other markets in Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Nevada.
PERCENT OF BAY AREA RESIDENTS ENROLLED IN ANTHEM PLANS THROUGH COVERED CALIFORNIA IN 2017
San Benito, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties: 39 percent of 29,050 total exchange enrollees
Santa Clara County: 34 percent of 59,721 enrollees
San Mateo County: 11 percent of 24,970 enrollees
Marin, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties: 8 percent of 52,562 enrollees
San Francisco County: 6.7 percent of 36,955 enrollees
Alamada County: 5 percent of 63,582 enrollees
Contra Costa County: 3 percent of 41,637 enrollees
Source: Covered California
Vacillating laws, uncertain health care coverage, and rising costs are all reasons why the California Nurses Association has worked tirelessly to promote the Healthy California Act, SB 562. Health Care for All in a single-payer format alleviates health care insecurity.
For more on Anthem Blue Cross exiting California counties and the Healthy California Act, SB 562, refer to EAST BAY TIMES: Bay Area residents frustrated by Anthem Blue Cross exit from health exchange and National Nurses United, the sources from which this information was derived.