Blue Cross to issue refunds, raise premiums

September 20, 2010 3:21:12 PM PDT
Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina will refund money to some of its individual policyholders.

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodman and BCBSNC President and CEO Brad Wilson made the announcement Monday.

The one-time refund will return $155.8 million to more than 215,000 individual customers as a result of the Affordable Care Act. The company will issue the refunds by the end of the year to policyholders who had Blue Advantage or Blue Options HAS as of March 23, 2010 -- the date that the federal law was enacted.

"Our customers are our top priority and we've created a real win for them," Wilson said. "Our policyholders can expect to receive refund checks from us by the end of the year."

Refunds will be proportional to premiums paid and will equal more than 1.5 months of premiums. BCBSNC says refund amounts will vary based on a customer's specific premium rate. For example, for an average policyholder's monthly premium of about $380, the refund would be approximately $690.

"I'm pleased that the Department and Blue Cross were able to identify a way for $155.8 million to go back into consumers' wallets," Commissioner Goodwin said. "I'm also glad that we were able to negotiate a lower-than-requested rate adjustment that will save $14.5 million in future premiums for policyholders."

The company says the funds will come from active life reserves, which are portions of the premium set aside in the early years of a policy to pay future claims and keep rates stable as customers' medical expenses rise during the life of the policy

The Department of Insurance also approved rate adjustments to BCBSNC's Blue Advantage and Blue Options HSA for Individuals products. In August, BCBSNC requested a 6.97 percent increase for Blue Advantage policies; the Department approved a 5.37 percent increase, which will save policyholders $14.5 million.

This is the lowest Blue Advantage rate increase in four years.

The Department also approved BCBSNC's requested 2.06 percent rate increase for Blue Options HSA for Individuals.

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