Blue Shield Deposits Lumps of Coal in Stockings Across California

While some sort of Frankensteinien healthcare consensus seems to be forming in DC, Blue Shield is thumbing their nose at a consumer-focused healthcare system.  With Blue Shield, profits the balance sheet comes first, as they have announced that they will remove a late payment grace period. From David Lazarus:

Amid a national debate on how to make the healthcare system friendlier and more accessible, and as millions of people grapple with the loss of jobs and homes, what does insurance heavyweight Blue Shield of California do?

It decides to take a key benefit away.

The company has notified individual policyholders that their coverage could be immediately dropped if they miss a single payment — or so it seems. Blue Shield says in a letter to customers that they can reapply for insurance, but with potentially higher premiums and stricter conditions. This represents a significant change from Blue Shield’s former practice of giving customers two special grace periods annually to make up for missed payments without any change to coverage or premiums.(LA Times)

While employer (and individual) healthcare costs are going up rapidly, and benefits are decreasing, Blue Shield is doing its best to make sure that its customers are even more upset with the system.  

Sure, they don’t have to offer this grace period, but is now the time to start making health insurance less consumer friendly?

8 thoughts on “Blue Shield Deposits Lumps of Coal in Stockings Across California”

  1. It’s truly a sad commentary on our country that insurance companies can do whatever they want to us.  My mom has high blood pressure – controlled with medication.  Her COBRA supplement just ran out and she applied for individual insurance.  Blue Cross rejected her – she cannot get insurance with them unless she no longer has high blood pressure.  The government gets scape-goated and fear-mongered – but we’re happy to let our lives be run by some actuary who’s not responsible to anyone the insurance company’s shareholders.

  2. I do agree the revision in grace-period rules is, at best, Scrooge-like and may even be marginally legal, as noted in the article.

    But both the writer of the the post and of the first comment seem to believe that Blue Shield of California is a corporation that cares only about “profits” and its “shareholders.” It is, in fact, a not-for-profit health plan (there are no shareholders), and it is regulated as such. One might argue that all they care about are their salaries and their balance sheet, but to refer to profits or shareholders here is simply wrong.


  3. Glad to see the Times shining a little light on this practice.

    I got the very letter in question a few weeks ago.  Needless to say it caused a great deal of consternation in the Thompson household.

    Good thing it doesn’t kick in until the New Year.

    Was late on my payment this month by a few days — well within the grace period that will soon be eliminated.  During that window I sprained my wrist.  A minor thing, but still required an x-ray and some meds.

    I paid Blue Cross and they’re paying the claim.  Had this been January, I’d have been f’d.

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