Michigan lawmakers have changed the way Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) operates. While it will remain a non-profit, it'll no longer require the company to offer coverage at current rates.
Some say the change may be at the expense of seniors receiving Medigap. Medigap policies cover any medical expenses that Medicare won??t cover.
Midge Mattson, one of the 200,000 receiving Medigap, says any increases are concerning.
??If it is a very high increase, then so many of us seniors won??t be able to afford it,?? said Mattson.
Blue Cross Blue Shield has been known as the insurer of last resort, but once the Affordable Health Care Act takes effect in 2014 that will change. The current legislature will no longer obligate Blue Cross to offer the two Medigap plans at a cheaper rate for seniors.
??Now with federal health reforms, that won??t be necessary,?? said Andy Hetzel, VP of Corporate Communications for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. ??Other insurance companies will no longer reject people who are sick.??
There is a premium freeze until 2016 for existing seniors receiving Medigap, and Hetzel added the bill is providing a safety net for seniors once it expires.
??The legislation put into place a provision that would enable the lowest income seniors in the state to continue to receive subsidies from the states new non-profit fund which has been created by this legislation,?? Hetzel explained.
However, critics say after the freeze expires in 2016, the changes will have a severely negative effect.
Social worker Vickie Bollock said many seniors on Medigap may see significant increases in monthly premium rates.??Also, Blue Cross may take into consideration preexisting conditions, and there is a possibility that these Medigap plans may be completely dropped,?? added Bollock.
A spokesperson at Governor Rick Snyder??s office says he will most likely sign the bill. Once he does, BCBSM will finish its transition by the end of the year.