OMAHA (June 28, 2012) – Nebraska health care consumers will undergo minimal changes between now and 2014, but the state’s largest health insurance company will continue on its current path of preparing for the implementation of health insurance exchanges, after the Supreme Court announced Thursday that it narrowly upheld a provision in health care legislation that requires every person to purchase health insurance.
“We’ll continue the work that we started in 2011, preparing to help Nebraskans every way we can to navigate a new health insurance market,” said Steven S. Martin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. “We’re pleased that the Court left the door open for every person to get coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions.
“The individual health insurance market continues to grow, and we will be ready to help Nebraskans through the changes as that market expands exponentially in 2014.”
Martin added that while BCBSNE has been working operationally for nearly two years to participate on a health insurance exchange and guide Nebraskans through the process, Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling will send a strong message to state governments and federal agencies that the clock is ticking.
“There are massive government systems that have to be put in place and ready to go in a little over a year,” Martin said. “The state of Nebraska and other states have at least undergone analysis of how they will handle the coming exchange. Some states haven’t even started.”
At issue before the Court was whether a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act violated the U.S. Constitution by requiring all individuals to purchase health care coverage. The Supreme Court took up the case as the law was challenged by 26 states, including Nebraska, and could have struck down the law in its entirety or in part.
Instead, it upheld the legislation by terming the individual mandate a “tax” on individuals; plans for individuals to purchase health insurance on an “exchange” will move forward for 2014. “We were just in Washington, and we had indications that the vote might go the other way and strike down the mandate,” Martin said.
Either way, Martin said BCBSNE’s stance hasn’t changed since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2011. The company will continue implementation of the law, and will work with policymakers to “fix provisions that will increase costs, such as the health insurance tax that will add hundreds of dollars to families’ premiums each year,” Martin said.
“On behalf of the 700,000 Nebraskans we serve, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska will continue to lead efforts in our local communities—partnering with doctors, nurses, hospitals and others to reduce health care costs, improve quality, help people stay well and better manage their care when they need it.”