- Effective April 1, several Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies will no longer pay broker commissions on sales for individual health plans, a decision that could slow enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, Forbes reported.
- The change, designed to curb costs, affects only new sales of individual plans. Commissions would still be paid for group plans, renewals and retail ancillary products.
- Blue Cross said it remains committed to offering plans under Obamacare.
The move underscores concerns that payers will steer agents away from sicker and more costly customers by cutting commissions. This is especially likely during special enrollment periods, which insurers say allows people to wait and sign up for health insurance when they get sick — making it hard for firms to manage their risk pools.
To prevent that happening, Covered California, California’s public health exchange, is considering making participating plans pay sales commissions on all people who enroll.
Last year, UnitedHealth Group decided to stop paying commissions after losing $700 million on the exchanges, and will exit the ACA altogether in 2017.
Among the companies dropping commissions are Anthem and Health Care Service Corp. HCSC sells Blue Cross plans in Illinois, Texas and three other states. Anthem’s plans are in Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Maine, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
“We are committed to expanding access to quality health care to as many people as possible in Texas through the retail market, and have been ‘all-in’ since the inception of the Affordable Care Act,” BlueCross BlueShield of Texas said in a memo to agents. “However, as the individual market evolves, we, in turn, need to make changes to the way we operate in order to continuing offering sustainable health plan options to our members.”