For nearly 80 years, Independence Blue Cross (Independence) has been committed to improving the health and well-being of our community. This commitment includes continuing to participate in the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace, which is helping millions of people access the health care coverage they need. Every year, we offer consumers a range of health plans with a variety of prices to meet their needs and budget. One question people often ask is how — and when — does Independence determine the cost of health coverage plans? Here’s a brief FAQ to shed some light on our process.
What affects the cost of health coverage?
We do everything possible to keep the cost of our health insurance plans affordable while providing high-quality coverage. The cost of health coverage can rise with a member’s age, if a member smokes, or with the number of people a plan will cover. We also have to consider the rising costs of health care, in particular, the high cost of prescription drugs — our pharmacy costs rose by 40 percent last year. Another factor is the increase in the use of health services: people who are getting health insurance for the first time through the Affordable Care Act tend to have more medical needs, so their health care needs are more expensive. Philadelphia is already one of the most expensive markets for health care — more than 40 percent higher than the rest of the country.
When do you determine plan rates?
To come up with health insurance rates, we have to predict the future cost of health care for our members one full year ahead, using information from the previous year. For example, we had to use our member experience — the amount we spent to pay members’ claims from 2015 to determine insurance premiums for our 2017 plans.
What can we expect for the cost of health coverage in 2017?
For 2017, we will offer plans at a variety of price points across all metallic tiers and a catastrophic plan. This includes 12 individual health plans through the Marketplace and 13 individual health plans directly through Independence. All plans will be available directly from Independence Blue Cross, but some plans will no longer be available to purchase through the Marketplace. You will be able to compare 2017 Independence Blue Cross health plans and get a quote when open enrollment begins on November 1.
What can I do to help offset the cost of my health plan?
Financial assistance from the government may be available to you based on your household income and the size of your family. Find out if you may be eligible. For more tips on how to save money on your health care coverage and prescription drug cost, as well as how to balance health care cost, visit our Health Insurance Basics site.
Independence remains committed to our community, to health care reform, and to our members. Despite challenges, we strive to offer plans that work for everyone. If you have any questions about our plans or rates, give us a call at 1-888-475-6206 (TTY: 711) 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Monday to Friday.