Local/State

Blue Cross raises questions about new health care law

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

One of the state's largest insurance providers is raising new questions about President Barack Obama's health care law.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield is warning potential patients about rising premiums and other problems. However, critics accuse the company of scare tactics.

Blue Cross Blue Shield stands to gain thousands of new customers beginning in October when every American will be required to have health insurance. That's why the company opened a retail office in Morrisville, and five others across the state to educate people about the health care law.

Starting in October, Blue Cross Blue Shield will use the stores to enroll new customers shopping for coverage because of the law. The company is taking a hands on approach in educating people.

However, some are accusing the company of skewing the facts. Blue Cross posted a video on its website called the "Cost of Change."

It makes the case that health care premiums could likely go up, not down because of the law.

The company says younger and healthy people would more likely pay a tax penalty, before paying for health insurance they didn't need.

The video says the cost burden of insuring patients with pre-existing conditions will likely get passed along to other customers.

Critics of the video call it fear mongering aimed at changing aspects of the law the insurance industry doesn't like, like the $100 billion in new taxes the industry will have to pay over the next 10 years.

"Blue Cross really has an opportunity to give people the facts and they are engaging in some speculation and not giving people the straightforward facts they need," said Adam Linker, with the N.C. Justice Center.

"We just want to be transparent," said Ashlee Smart, of Blue Cross Blue Shield. "It's complicated and we want to help consumers understand what's in the law and how it impacts them and their unique situation."

State lawmakers turned down $70 million from the federal government this year. It was for the specific purpose of educating the public about the law.

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