More than 100,000 Minnesota residents will have to hunt around for a new health insurance provider, after Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota announced it’s taking a step back from offering health plans to individuals and families in the state as of 2017.
The company, which is Minnesota’s largest health insurer, pegged the move on major financial losses, after leaking a reported $265 million on insurance operations from individual market plans in 2015.
“The individual market remains in transition and we look forward to working toward a more stable path with policy leaders here in Minnesota and at the national level,” the company said in a statement. “Shifts and changes in health plan participation and market segments have contributed to a volatile individual market, where costs and prices have been escalating at unprecedented levels.”
The move will affect about 103,000 Minnesotans who have purchased Blue Cross coverage on their own, through an agent or broker, or on MNsure, the state’s insurance exchange, the company says. Though the main Blue Cross Blue Shield unit is leaving the state’s individual market, its smaller subsidiary, Blue Plus, will still offer plans on the individual market. Blue Plus has about 13,000 members.
The last day of coverage for all other Blue Cross individual and family plans, other than those offered through Blue Plus HMO, will be Dec. 31, 2016.
“We understand and regret the difficulty we know this causes for some of our members,” the insurer wrote. “We will be notifying all of our members individually and work with them to assess and transition to alternative coverage options in 2017.”
A representative with the Kaiser Family Foundation, which analyzes individual health insurance markets nationwide, told NPR News that Blue Cross Blue Shield isn’t the only company doing a walk back in this area.
“Right now what it seems like is that insurance companies are really trying to reset their strategy,” she said. “So they may be pulling out selectively in certain markets to reevaluate their strategy and participation in the exchanges.”