It was recently reported that Premera Blue Cross/Blue Shield has sent discontinuation notices to about 5,360 Alaskan customers who have purchased the plans on the individual market. The letters say that the insurance company will automatically renew insurance plans at an increased cost unless consumers cancel.
Gov. Sean Parnell has made the letters a campaign issue by pointing to them as proof of the failure of ObamaCare. So have Republican U.S. Senate candidates Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and Joe Miller.
But the insurance company letters do not mention that consumers might get the same insurance at a much cheaper rate through the health care exchanges, if and when they’re up in Alaska.
The same letters went out to Washington state consumers, which caused that state’s division of insurance to issue a consumer alert lightly excoriating Blue Cross and urging its citizens to “know your rights and options.”
“Don’t just take what your insurance company says, make sure you shop around,” the alert says.
The Alaska Division of Insurance has yet to issue a consumer alert and appears to be abdicating responsibility to educate consumers about the health care law to the feds.
An article about the letters sent to Washington consumers tells the story of a woman named “Donna” who got such a letter:
If Donna had done nothing, she would have ended up spending about $1,000 more a month for insurance than she will now that she went to the marketplace, picked the best plan for her family and accessed tax credits at the heart of the health care reform law.
As it happened, Donna ended up shopping on the Washington exchange, which is up and running, and found a policy that was better than she was getting and will pay only $80 a month.
Eric Earling, director of corporate communications at Premera Blue Cross/Blue Shield, defended the letters it was sending consumers.
“Our experience is that our customers are already aware that they have other options in the market and that we’ve never had to tell them in the past that we have competitors,” he said.
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