Michigan Blues go full steam ahead on health care reform implementation

Many observers were caught by surprise when the U.S. Supreme Court decided to uphold the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — including the controversial individual mandate requiring all Americans to obtain health insurance.
But at the Michigan Blues, we’re moving full steam ahead with plans to ensure we are compliant and ready for health care reform.
In many ways, we’ve had the shortest distance to travel to become compliant with the law. For example, unlike most insurers, we already guarantee coverage to anyone who needs it and we’ve long practiced community rating which means we do not use health status to determine a premium rate. We also already exceed a new government requirement that says insurers must spend 80 cents of each premium dollar on medical expenses.

These are just some of the ways we were ready for change.  BCBSM also has been preparing vigorously in other areas from the day President Obama signed the law in 2010.

We’ve created a new business unit devoted entirely to preparing our company, customers and stakeholders for the many changes ahead. We’re also advising federal and state policymakers on how to create state insurance exchanges with consistent regulations to best serve consumers.

We’re taking several steps to help Michiganders be prepared for the law, including finding ways to make insurance more affordable for those who aren’t covered, and helping the uninsured understand how subsidies or rules that will expand Medicaid eligibility could help them purchase insurance on the exchange.

Whether you’re an individual consumer, a senior citizen, sales agent, employer or doctor, you can find more information about how health reform affects you at bcbsm.com/healthreform.

Photo credit Envios.

Daniel J. Loepp is president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Blues CEO Daniel J. Loepp on Detroit: ‘Best I’ve seen in probably 30 years’

Blues President and CEO Daniel J. Loepp is attending the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference this week on Mackinac Island, where he stopped in for an interview with MiVote.org and journalist Christy McDonald.

In the video interview, Loepp discusses revitalization and business investment in the city of Detroit, the upcoming completion of BCBSM’s move of 3,000 suburban employees into the city, the street lighting initiative undertaken with the city and the Downtown Detroit Partnership, and the impact of national health care reform.

Take a look here.

Blues CEO Dan Loepp Talks Health Care Costs, Quality and Accountability on WJR’s Paul W. Smith Show

Daniel J. Loepp

Blue Cross made its presence felt at the Crain’s Health Care Leadership Summit in Detroit on Thursday. Daniel J. Loepp, president and CEO, delivered the welcoming address and earlier stopped by the WJR-AM radio booth for a live interview with host Paul W. Smith to talk about health care reform, partnering to lower costs and improve the quality of care and other topics in the news. A snippet:

Smith: We don’t know for sure the impacts of reform but we do know that there’s an opportunity to make health care work better for everyone. We need to save costs, save money, but we also need to make sure that the quality of care is there.

Loepp: Absolutely, and I think the two words that come to mind for me, and you and I have talked often about this, is accountability and responsibility, I think both on the provider’s side, the insurer’s side and the subscriber’s side. People taking care of themselves, paying attention to their health, best practices by hospitals and physicians and insurance companies. And if we can do that and we continue to talk—I was up in Marquette on Monday, I spoke to the economic club—talking about collaboration and when we do collaborate with each other and we’ve done that with the hospitals and the docs, we’re seeing savings in Michigan because of that and I think that’s part of what we’re going to talk about today.

Listen here: Paul W Smith Broadcast with Dan Loepp

How Big Is the Impact of Health Care Reform on Free Clinics and Other ‘Safety Net’ Providers for Michigan’s Uninsured?

Much of the talk about health care reform has centered on how it will affect Medicare, individuals or private businesses. But how will it affect the organizations that provide care to those who are uninsured or underinsured?

Leaders from free clinics, federally qualified health centers, and FQHC look-alikes gathered for the first time to talk about caring for the uninsured and underinsured at the Healthy Safety Net: A Blues Symposium May 5 in Lansing, Michigan. The Blues hosted this interactive symposium to give safety net providers a chance to talk about the impact of health care reform on Michigan’s efforts to provide health care for everyone.

The symposium provided a forum for administrators, board members and medical directors from the clinics and health centers to discuss the changing health care landscape and share what that may mean to their respective organizations.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will provide coverage to many of the state’s uninsured by 2014, but there will still be an estimated 6 to 9 percent of Michigan’s population without health insurance.

So what happens next? The role of these safety net providers will likely change, but the commitment to making sure everyone who needs health care gets it has not.

“Strategic partnerships are the key to survival and success,” said Dave Law, executive director of the Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation. “And the most important partner in all of this is the patient. We need to fully understand their needs and the challenges facing them. Then we can build those key relationships and partnerships that provide overall health benefits to the underserved residents of our communities.”

Since 2005, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has granted more than $6 million to Michigan’s free clinics to secure health and dental care for thousands of uninsured and underinsured patients.

Click here to view a previously recorded live broadcast from the Health Safety Net: A Blues Symposium

Pre-existing conditions hinder people’s ability to find affordable coverage in Michigan

During an Oct. 20 debate between U.S. Representative John Dingell and his opponent Dr. Rob Steele, Dr. Steele made a comment that “We have no pre-existing conditions in Michigan; we have Blue Cross Blue Shield.”

It is true that Blue Cross covers people with pre-existing conditions and does not reject them for coverage. This has been at the center of our unique nonprofit mission for decades. The problem in Michigan is that Blue Cross’s mission is unique. No other insurer — until national reform takes full affect in 2014 — covers the sick. This leaves Michigan consumers with pre-existing conditions with only one option. And this is where Dr. Steele’s comment needs clarification.

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Michigan business owners express concerns over health care reform

Lack of cost containment, onerous tax reporting among biz concerns over health care reform

What can Michigan businesses expect as federal health care reform gains momentum? That was the big question being asked during a Health Care Reform: Defined event and panel discussion Tuesday at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

The answer, of course, depends upon many factors, including the shape of yet-to-be-written regulations and how the Nov. 2 election shakes out in both Washington, D.C. and Lansing. But the consensus was that businesses will likely need help both from tax and employee-benefit advisors as well as from statewide insurance exchanges set to be established in 2014.

One of business’ biggest concerns about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was the lack of measures to contain costs, experts said.

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Health reform at 6 months: Free checkups and tetanus shots, anyone?

National health reform turns six months old on Sept. 23, when a variety of new rules and regulations take effect. In this weeklong series, we highlight how benefits will change for consumers in the near term. You can also find videos, news alerts, RSS feeds and other information at our health reform website.

Health insurers will be required to cover a host of preventive services and immunizations with no cost sharing for members under a requirement of national health reform soon to take effect. Cost sharing is when health plans – or employers offering health plans – require members to cover some costs associated with their coverage, such as co-payments for doctors’ office visits or for medications.

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At three-month mark, BCBSM is well-positioned for reform implementation

Yesterday at the White House, many of the values that guide BCBSM’s approach to insuring people’s health were on display once again as President Obama brought insurance industry leaders together to mark the 91st day of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as health care reform.

President Obama spoke about the progress that’s been made in the three months since he signed the health care reform law.

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