- Effective next year, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield’s Group Hospitalization and Medical Services subsidiary will no longer offer bronze tier plans on the Virginia healthcare exchange, Kaiser Health News reported.
- The announcement sparked concerns that other insurers would follow suit.
- Of the four levels offered through Obamacare, bronze plans are the least generous, paying on average 60% of benefits, versus 70% for silver plans.
According to CareFirst, Virginians who currently have bronze plans will be moved to silver plans. The payer will still offer bronze plans on other markets.
Roughly 23% of ACA customers opted for bronze plans during the 2016 open enrollment period. The most popular tier, silver, garnered 68% of consumers, followed by gold, 6%, and platinum, 2%.
Some experts have pointed to the Affordable Care Act’s risk-adjustment program as impetus for dropping bronze plans, since they may attract healthier people. Under the program, insurers that enroll sicker, more costly members get payments from those with healthier, less costly members.
However, Katherine Hempstead, with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, told KHN says it’s too early to tell whether CareFirst’s move signals a broader shift away from bronze plans — and whether that would hurt consumers if it did.
Within each tier, the percent of costs that a plan pays can vary by up to 5%, and the average prices of bronze and silver plans actually drifted toward each other in the last year, Hempstead told KHN.
Moreover, the analysis showed that in all regions, the highest-end bronze plan was significantly more costly than the lowest priced silver plan.