Insurance industry changes due to Affordable Care Act

By LOREN HARPER

The recent Affordable Care Act that has taken effect is affecting everyone involved in getting and providing insurance, and no one knows this better than employees of major insurance companies.

Everyone was prepared for changes in the insurance industry once the Affordable Care Act took effect. However, no one involved in the insurance process was prepared for changes that have taken place. There have been numerous positive and negative changes for the insured and health insurance companies.

Jay Severa, vice president of underwriting at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, said, “The Affordable Care Act limits the plan options we can offer companies wishing to insure their employees.”

Severa mentioned that Blue Cross is now mandated by the Affordable Care Act to cover certain things that were optional before, which, according to him, can be a good or bad thing depending on the needs of the person getting the insurance. Examples of these services are maternity benefits regardless of gender, contraception, dental checkups for children, and vision checkups for children. The inclusion of these services are a change because previously if an employer or an individual wanted insurance that would provide catastrophic coverage only, they had that option. Now everyone is required to have a certain minimum level of coverage, so they do not have that option.

“As a result of mandates by the Affordable [C]are Act, the people who get insurance from Blue Cross Blue Shield are often given higher premiums to pay,” Sue Croce, account manager at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, said.

The higher premiums are due to the mandatory addition of services that were not required before. In addition, Croce mentioned insurance companies are required to add additional taxes and fees since the Affordable Care Act has gone into effect, and those costs are passed along to the insured. The new taxes and fees are designed to fund the subsidies to people who qualify that previously could not afford health insurance.

Severa also said Blue Cross hopes more people will have health insurance now that the health insurance marketplace exists.

The marketplace is helpful to people trying to get health insurance because they can compare the rates of various insurance companies, said Croce.

Croce said, “The Affordable [C]are Act is beneficial to college students and their parents, because children can now be covered on their parents insurance until age 26.”

Croce found the option of parents covering their children beneficial because it gives college students and other young adults more time to finish college and find full-time employment. In addition, the Affordable Care Act was positive for people with preexisting conditions because they can no longer be denied coverage.

Severa mentioned that the marketplace is beneficial to many people who could not afford insurance and can now have insurance because of subsidies they can get from the government through the Affordable Care Act.

Both Severa and Croce felt that everyone in the health insurance industry and their customers are trying to learn how to navigate the changes in health care coverage that have come with the Affordable Care Act. Severa and Croce are hopeful that the changes in health care that have arisen from the act will be smooth once everyone involved gets well acquainted with them.

Health care companies and the insured are undergoing a massive change since the Affordable Care Act went into effect, and it will take additional time to discover the full impact the act is having. One thing that does seem to be clear is that the health care act either has or will soon be affecting every American.

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