Health insurance cancellation letters fail to tell the whole story

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.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


6 thoughts on “Health insurance cancellation letters fail to tell the whole story

  1. karl ashenbrenner

    WRONG….the healthcare exchanges are govt. run but consist of PRIVATE insurers. You are in the private marketplace. Your information that you give is not health information but is information you give out daily to any tom dick and harry website you order your crappy mantel art from. Quit listening to Fox and actually get a clue as to what is happening. The ACA mandates that private insurers must go through a marketplace clearinghouse in order that you can actually for the first time in history see what is offered and by whom. If you are concerned about tax credits and who will pay, call your congressman (Big Daddy Don) and ask him to cut one or two fighter jets and maybe a warship out of the budget and those savings will pay for it….JEESH…get a clue.

  2. Slightlycrazed

    ..”and accessed tax credits at the heart of the health care reform law.”

    And here I thought better health coverage and availability was at the heart of the reform…but not my point.

    Tax credits can be cancelled, repealed, or reduced by other administrations down the road. Our nation is strapped for cash, remember? But the currently horribly expensive insurance options available through the exchanges will not suddenly become cheaper when they cease to be subsidized by tax credits, if anything, insurance costs will continue to rise. At that point, every single American will be paying horrendous premiums and out of pocket expenses, and be mandated by law to do so. Many millions won’t be able to afford them, and will end up using alternative government subsidy…in other words, pure welfare. And as everybody knows, once part of the welfare system, personal financial responsibility is rarely attained ever again.

  3. Lela Markham

    Neither are you telling the full story. Those whose insurance policies are being canceled now are NOT getting the insurance at a cheaper rate when they reapply through the exchanges. They’re getting it at a subsidized rate that means the taxpayers are actually paying the bill. People making $80,000 annually are eligible for this subsidy, by the way. I don’t make $80,000 a year, but I’m going to be paying for their insurance subsidy. What’s wrong with that picture?

    What is objectionable is the sleight-of-hand being employed here. The ACA says that if you ever receive insurance through the exchanges, you can never return to the private market. You may no longer be eligible for subsidies, but you will still have to go through the exchanges. Whether Alaska has an exchange or not is immaterial. People who cannot afford insurance (or make less than $80,000 a year) can get insurance through the federal exchange now (well, if they ever get the website operational), but when they do that, it binds them into that goverment system forever, according to the ACA. Even after they quit receiving subsidies, they will still have to get their insurance through the exchanges. That’s the law.

    I can hear you rolling your eyes and saying “so what?” Well, for those of us who value our privacy, it’s a big deal, because participating in the exchanges involves the government in every health decision you make henceforth. If you receive insurance through the exchanges, all of your health information for the rest of your life goes into a government database that will become accessible to all branches of government with clearance. Or, in other words, any bureaucrat with a password.

  4. Patriot of AK

    This sort of behavior is reprehensible. Are the politicians and insurance companies teaming up to mislead the public about the Affordable Care Act? I hope that Governor Parnell will direct his insurance commissioner to do the right thing and follow the lead of Washington state and issue a consumer alert. Isn’t government’s job to help its citizens? Isn’t the Division. Of Insurance suppose to help and protect the state’s consumers? I don’t know who Alaska’s Insurance Commissioner is but I hope he steps up and does the right thing. If he doesn’t, I’m done with the Republicans even though I have been a registered member of that party my entire adult life.

  5. connie

    OMG. Insurance companies are so sleezy. Alaska’s Insurance Director either is asleep or bought and paid for by the insirance industry.

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