Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona recently contacted nearly 40,000 customers with preferred provider health plans (PPOs) to notify them their plans will no longer be offered in 2016. Consumers who’ve received a cancellation notice will be able to choose from select health maintenance organization (HMO) plans with smaller networks of doctors and hospitals. They will also be able to shop around competing plans during the three-month open enrollment that begins in November.
BCBS is just one of four major health insurance companies in Arizona that will discontinue PPOs next year on the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace, according to a recent Arizona Republic article; the other companies are Aetna, Cigna and Meritus.
The news comes as insurers are trying to stabilize their finances, which have been in turmoil since the passage of ACA or Obamacare. Steady rate increases during the past few years and, more recently, a transition to lower-cost HMO plans have been their strategy so far. And Arizonans are not alone. According to a recent Forbes piece by Grace-Marie Turner, approximately 400,000 Americans have been impacted to date, following failures of state ACA health care cooperatives in New York, Kentucky, Nevada, Iowa, Louisiana and Nebraska.
If you are among those who received a cancellation notice from your provider, be sure to explore your options and find a new plan to fit your needs. The silver lining to this new inconvenience in the health care system is that changing insurance providers has become easier and no longer presents the potential risk of losing coverage. You are already on the merry-go-round, and a new enrollment period will come around again next year if you need to make another change.