- Blue Shield of California CEO Paul Markovich affirmed his commitment to selling coverage in the state’s Obamacare exchange, despite Republican threats to repeal the Affordable Care Act, California Healthline reported.
- Speaking with the publication’s Chad Terhune, Markovich also criticized President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to increase competition and consumer choice by allowing plans to sell across state lines.
- Blue Shield is the largest payer in Covered California – the state's health insurance exchange – with nearly 30% of enrollees out of 1.4 million.
Allowing cross-state sales will “push health plans to find the regulatory body or state with the fewest number of regulations,” Markovich told CHL. “It’s a race to the lowest common denominator and least rich benefits.”
He said Blue Shield expects to report a loss in the exchanges for 2016, following profits the previous two years, but isn’t ready to thrown in the towel.
The San Francisco-based insurer shuttered operations for four days in September to save an estimated $4 million, citing losses in Covered California plans. Blue Shield is increasing its exchange rates on average 20% for the coming year.
“There are always risks and concerns moving from one policy framework to another, but I think an effective transition is workable. We wouldn’t be running for the hills,” Markovich said. “We intend to keep offering individual coverage and keep trying to make it work under whatever regulatory or legislative umbrella we are under.”
California has taken a very hands-on approach to Obamacare, both in operating its marketplace and expanding Medicaid. For example, Covered California was one of the first public exchanges to impose quality and cost standards on insurers and providers.
That effort has paid off, according to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. After three years of open enrollments, 72% of Californians who lacked coverage in 2013 are not insured — including 78% of those eligible.