27,000 IBX customers must find a new health plan

    Philadelphia’s Independence Blue Cross says it’s the only company in the region that offers so-called “guarantee-issue” health plans. Those plans accept all comers regardless of their health status. Blue Cross officials say those plans have been losing money for years, and the company will discontinue the line at the end of February.

    Philadelphia’s Independence Blue Cross says it’s the only company in the region that offers so-called “guarantee-issue” health plans. Those plans accept all comers regardless of their health status. Blue Cross officials say those plans have been losing money for years, and the company will discontinue the line at the end of February.

    Listen:

    [audio:100108techoice.mp3]

    Insurance Department officials say the Personal Choice plans from Independence Blue Cross are popular among consumers who don’t have access to workplace, group health insurance. Customers buy Personal Choice health coverage directly from the company.

    Spokeswoman Liz Williams says the company will replace its Personal Choice line with new guarantee-issue plans, including new benefits and new rates. Williams says Pennsylvania regulators approved the rate changes to allow Blue Cross to keep up with rising health care costs.

    Williams: So, when medical costs go up, rates go up. And the Philadelphia region is one of the most expensive medical care markets in the country. We use more medical services than most other cities, too.

    Some customers could save nearly 50 percent on their current premiums. Other people can expect rate hikes as high as 75 percent.

    Pennsylvania insurance commissioner Joel Ario says the country needs federal health reform that would prevent price fluctuations for people who buy their coverage the individual marketplace.

    Ario: If you are young and healthy you can get pretty good rates but if you are older and sicker, your are either not going to be able to get insurance at all, or you are going to pay five or 10 times as much for that insurance.

    About 27,000 people are enrolled the Personal Choice plans now and need to make a new selection by January 15th.

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