For about 60,000 Covered California customers, there will be only one insurer left in their communities after Anthem Blue Cross of California pulls out of much of the state’s individual & family plan market.
Anthem cited uncertainty at the federal level and an unstable marketplace in its decision to withdraw from 16 of 19 pricing regions in the individual California market. Overall, 153,000 Anthem policyholders in Covered California will have to find new plans. About 144,000 people who purchase their policies outside the exchange will also be forced to switch insurers.
Anthem’s departure is a blow for the Covered California exchange, which has often boasted that healthy competition among its plans helped lower costs and improve its members’ access to care.
Competition won’t be so healthy next year for Covered California enrollees in six counties: Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Inyo, and Mono. For them, their only choice will be Blue Shield of California. About 80 percent of doctors on Anthem’s network is also in Blue Shield’s network. So many people may be able to keep their doctors.
Blue Shield is the only insurer that will offer plans statewide on the exchange in 2018. Portions of seven other counties will also be served only by Blue Shield. The 28 counties where Anthem will continue to offer plans are mostly in the rural parts of Northern and central California.
Californians in those areas who buy their plans outside the Covered California exchange may also be limited to one insurer. It’s not clear how many people that includes.
Consumers who live in the one-plan areas and don’t receive federal tax credits to lower the cost of their premiums will be the most affected. They will have to shoulder the full amount of the increase if the Blue Shield premiums are higher than what they are paying now.
If you are losing your Anthem Blue Cross Individual or Family health plan for 2018, you will need to select a new plan during Open Enrollment beginning November 1st. We will help you go through every step of the of the selection process to make sure that you choose the policy that is best for your unique family situation and budget. We can get it done!
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