Blue Cross Pulling Out of 41 WI Counties

Is Obamacare to Blame?

MacIver News Service | September 25, 2013

[Madison, Wisc…] Starting next week when the Obamacare Exchanges go online, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield will no longer be selling new individual insurance policies in 41 Wisconsin counties, including Dane, Eau Claire, La Crosse, and Rock.

Whether its through the exchanges or not, individuals will only be able to buy new policies in 31 out of 72 counties. People in other counties who already have Blue Cross and Blue Shield individual policies will be able to keep their coverage, at least until December 1, 2014.

“In an effort to slow the rise in health care costs, we are refining our networks to ensure that we have the right balance between access, cost of care and high quality outcomes for covered products and services,” Larry Schreiber, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin, said in a September 10th press release.

The MacIver News Service contacted Scott Larrivee, Anthem’s Public Relations Director in Wisconsin, who confirmed the insurance company would no longer be offering new individual policies in more than half of Wisconsin’s counties.

“There is a very important distinction that needs to be kept in mind regarding Individual policies (which you purchase yourself if your employer does not provide health benefits) and Group business (or employer sponsored insurance plans). Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield policies for large group and small group employers will continue to be sold statewide off the exchange through brokers and existing sales channels, just as they are today,” Larrivee said.

Prior to Anthem dropping out of those counties, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, a non-profit that’s been a strong proponent of Obamacare, trumpeted in an August 21st report, “100% of all Wisconsin citizens will have at least 2 insurance company options available to them 
on the individual health marketplace, as determined by county breakdown of insurance company service area.”

When the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance released the official list of insurers participating in the Obamacare Exchanges, 13 counties offered only one option for individual policies.

“[Citizen Action] made the assumption that carriers would not change their service areas,” J.P. Wieske, OCI’s Public Information Officer, told MNS.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield will continue selling new individual policies in Brown, Calumet, Dodge, Door, Fond du Lac, Jefferson, Kenosha, Kewaunee, Langlade, Lincoln, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marinette, Menominee, Milwaukee, Oconto, Oneida, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Portage, Racine, Shawano, Sheboygan, Taylor, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, Waupaca, Waushara, Winnebago and Wood Counties.