MNSure Instability Causes Major Health Insurance Company to Leave Minnesota

Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota has announced it will cease to offer family and individual health care coverage in Minnesota, and that all current plans will end coverage December 31, 2016.

The company announced the move via a press release on their website on Thursday, citing projected losses of more than $500 million over the next three years as the reason for the change. Only the “Blue Plus” HMO will still be offered going forward. The change will affect 103,000 Minnesotans who purchased plans either on their own, through a broker, or on MNsure.

“There’s a whole bunch of people who President Obama promised, ‘If you like your plan you can keep your plan,’ that are about to find out that they can’t,” Twila Brase, President of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom said, “All of the people who responsibly bought the individual plan are going to have to go somewhere else, and because Blue Cross Blue Shield is leaving it’s also likely that the price of going somewhere else is going to be higher because there will be less competition”

Blue Cross Blue Shield is the largest health insurance company in Minnesota. The Eagan based carrier lost $265 million on the individual market in 2015 alone, according to the Star Tribune. The company was also the single biggest player on the MNsure market last year, accounting for 43 percent of all individual plans.

“The way we were in the market was just not sustainable right now given all the instability, the volatility and all the change that continues to happen in the individual marketplace both on and off the exchange,” Blue Cross Blue Shield CEO Michael Guyette told the Star Tribune.

Governor Mark Dayton also acknowledged Blue Cross Blue Shield’s withdrawal from Minnesota is a reflection of the current instability of MNsure in regards to individual and family coverage.

“Blue Cross Blue Shield’s decision to leave the individual market is symptomatic of conditions in the national health insurance marketplace,” Dayton told MPR.

“Obamacare prohibited nationwide true affordable catastrophic coverage,” Brase said, “So we are now seeing the ramifications of that. What has to happen is that we get rid of the prohibition on true insurance policies that cover for catastrophes, that are affordable because they don’t cover anything else

Senate Democrats seemed to try and walk the Governor’s statement back, as a release from Senator Kathy Sheran placed blame for MNsure’s volatility on Republicans in the legislature.

“Making MNCare available for all Minnesotans may be a good option to help decrease costs and expand options,” wrote Sheran, “But the Republican Party has refused to even consider the option, limiting our choices and restricting Minnesota’s ability to respond to changes in the marketplace.”

About 20,000 Minnesotans have purchased their coverage via MNsure from Blue Cross Blue Shield according to MNsure spokesperson Shane Delany. Delaney told MPR that the best move for those affected by the insurance company’s move was to return to MNsure seeking a different option therein, as it is the only place eligible applicants are able to receive their federal tax credits.

“Government health care is not the solution to this problem,” Brase said, “Government health care, especially Obamacare is the reason we have the problem. So the last thing we want to do is expand the reason that we have the problem which is government health care.”

Anders Koskinen