Blue KC slashes number of health insurance plans it will offer on and off government marketplace

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some health insurers are getting out of the government marketplace while others are slashing the number of plans they'll offer. Analysts say too few healthy young people are buying coverage to offset costs for covering older, sicker people. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City will drop most of its individual plans on and off the marketplace in Jackson, Platte and Clay counties.

Max Jones, a self-employed realtor, had a bronze plan for his family through Blue KC. He received a letter telling him the plan will be discontinued on December 31.

"It's disappointing. I take a medication that is expensive and I have to get it approved through the insurance company. And it's gonna be a hassle," said Jones, referring to picking another plan.

His insurance agent, Tom Morrill, received a document from Blue KC showing that many individual plans are being discontinued. Blue KC says it had 15 plans on the government marketplace this year in Jackson, Platte and Clay counties, and 20 plans off the marketplace. In 2017, it will offer just two -- on and off.

In a statement, Blue KC told us, "Health insurers around the country are facing challenges with the ACA marketplace. Some have exited the ACA market completely while others have modified their product offerings and increased rates, sometimes substantially." (full statement is below)

"This is a train wreck," said Morrill.

He says when enrollment starts November 1, people picking individual plans can expect fewer insurers and plans to choose from, and also narrower networks of doctors and hospitals.

"Some of the policies that will be sold in the metro are only good in the metro. And the premiums will be much higher. On the Kansas side, the rate increases we've seen are anywhere from 10 to 40 percent," said Morrill.

"I think there's a limit to how much they can raise premiums to pay for their record-breaking profits every year." said Jones.

Morrill told Jones that he will need to find another insurer because the two plans Blue KC will offer won't work with his health savings account.

Morrill says Blue KC is dropping the commission it pays agents for selling its plans on the marketplace, and so has Cigna. He says he'll need to charge clients a fee which means fewer people may turn to him for help.

Statement from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City:

Health insurers around the country are facing challenges with the ACA marketplace. Some have exited the ACA market completely while others have modified their product offerings and increased rates, sometimes substantially.

As the only provider in our service area who has been on the Marketplace continuously since the ACA was implemented, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) has worked with regulators to allow us to continue offering plans, with modifications to offerings and rates, for 2017.

All members who are affected by either plan changes and/or rate changes will be notified by November 1, 2016. Modifications and/or rate changes vary by service areas, selected plan, and demographics.

We will continue to work with federal, state, and local leaders to find long-term solutions to stabilize the market and that support improved affordability for our members.

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