The state treasurer congratulated Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and Mission Health for working out a contract issue that could have affected more than 40,000 members of the State Health Plan.
North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell released a statement recognizing the two bodies for coming to an agreement for the health care provider’s participation in Blue Cross NC networks.
The agreement comes after lengthy negotiations reaching far past the expiration of their previous contract, which expired in early October.
Mission Health is a health service provider active in the western part of the state.
“We’re very pleased that Blue Cross and Mission Health have come to an agreement. I expect it to reduce complexity and increase the value of health care for state employees, retirees and other North Carolina taxpayers,” Folwell said. “It is so important that State Health Plan members in the western part of the state have in-network access to Mission Health’s facilities.”
The agreement will become active Dec. 15 and State Health Plan members will once again have in-network access to Mission Health facilities.
Mission Health facilities include seven hospitals across the western part of the state, including a children’s hospital in Asheville, as well as a dozens of other partner facilities such as doctor’s offices, medical specialists, rehabilitation facilities and home care organizations.
The agreement is effective December 15, at which point plan members can once again get in-network health care from Mission Health facilities.
The State Health Plan is a division of the Department of State Treasurer and provides health care coverage to more than 700,000 teachers, state employees, retirees, current and former lawmakers, state university and community college personnel, and their dependents each year.
Treasurer renegotiates Medicare Advantage contract for State Health Plan
Back in July Folwell announced the renegotiation of the contract between the State Health Plan and UnitedHealthcare, resulting in the stabilization of the premium rate for the state’s Medicare Advantage plan in 2018. Folwell said that the rate for the basic plan was decreased to $120 a month for 2018, down from $120.65 a month in 2017, avoiding a possible 25 percent cost increase. The average national increase in premiums bought in an exchange or private market from 2017 to 2018 is 25 percent, Folwell said. The renegotiated rate includes the assessment of the Health Insurance Providers Fee assessed as part of the Affordable Care Act, which was put on hold by Congress for 2017 last year. The fee is charged to “each covered entity engaged in the business of providing health insurance” such as the state. Folwell and representatives of State Employees Association of North Carolina and North Carolina Retired Governmental Employees Association have called on the North Carolina Congressional delegation to take the lead on extending the
moratorium, or repealing the tax altogether, which would result in an additional savings of $45 million for the state next year. Nationwide the assessed costs for the fee are expected to top $14 billion. In North Carolina a continued moratorium or repeal of the fee could mean a further reduction of 30 percent for the state’s cost in 2018. Currently there are 150,000 Medicare-eligible state retirees using Medicare Advantage plans through the State Health Plan, maintained by UnitedHealthcare. The Medicare Advantage plans combine Medicare Part A and Part B into a single plan and come from a Medicare-approved private insurer, who contracts with the federal government. Many of these plans offer extra benefits beyond Medicare, including prescription drug coverage, at no additional cost beyond the monthly plan premium, which also allows a Medicare participant to be able to utilize one simple card for their needs instead of juggling multiple plans working in concert. While the renegotiation on its face saves the state money in 2018, those who pay premiums for dependents will also see cost savings in 2018.v