Lunch links

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC is raising rates again. When the company says medical costs are driving premiums, that’s certainly true. But the insurer is also taking digs at reform. Rates are going up for some, Blue Cross claims, because it is eliminating some rate bands early. There’s nothing wrong with getting a jump on reform. But then Blue Cross also claims that rates will be variable after 2014 because of reform. But I thought it was introducing changes early so that rates will not vary widely after 2014.

Also, Blue Cross has a surplus that is 4.5 times the required amount. It could use those reserves to smooth some of the rate changes and make it easier for customers to retain policies at reasonable rates.

Gov. Perdue awards Rev. Barber the Order of the Longleaf Pine.

John Grooms says that while it’s true that nearly 20 percent of Americans think President Obama is a Muslim, nearly 80 percent don’t know that there are 100 senators. So, basically, we’re just stupid.

Students for Life of America is harassing the UNC System about its health care policy. I dare you to try and follow this logic for how federal funds are being used to fund abortion at UNC schools:

5) Since the UNC Administration is classifying the charge for the student health care plan under the student’s “total cost of attendance,” federal financial aid will be increased based on the abortion health care plan. In turn the federal aid directed to the university for such students will offset the cost of attendance including the abortion health care plan resulting in federal funding for abortion coverage. Has the UNC System informed the
Department of Education that federal funds will be used to pay for abortion health care plans? If so, what guidance has the Department provided?

And, apropos of nothing, a book of the uncollected writings of James Baldwin is out, edited and introduced by UNC Professor Randall Kenan.


  1. HunterC

    August 23, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    If you haven’t enjoyed the rural magical realism of NC’s own Randall Kenan yet, there’s still time this summer to enjoy his short story collection “Let the Dead Bury Their Dead”

  2. HunterC

    August 23, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    First lines that draw you in… for $2000, Alex:

    “On the day Clarence Pickett died, Wilma Jones’s hog Francis stopped talking.”

    It’s from the book mentioned above. Get it. You won’t regret it.

  3. Adam Linker

    August 23, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. David Kochman

    August 23, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Adam —

    State law requires our reserve (“surplus”) levels to be between three and six months of claims and administrative expenses, which is much larger than the regulatory minimum referenced in the report you cite. Our 2009 year-end reserves represent 3.6 months of claims and administrative expenses

    And while health care reform did contribute to rate increases for some, it also contributed to some people seeing rate decreases, and smaller increases for others. Finally, with so much of reform yet to be implemented or even written by regulators, there will certainly be volatility for several years to come.

    David Kochman
    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina

  5. Alex Morris

    August 24, 2010 at 8:08 am

    I think it is an outrage that BCBS gets all of it’s money from North Carolina citizens, receives large contracts from the state , and then outsources jobs to foreign countries !

  6. AdamL

    August 24, 2010 at 8:52 am

    Fair enough, David.

    For many years the NC Department of Insurance has argued that the Blue Cross surplus is excessive, Some of that could smooth out the volatility.

    And I agree that rates will fluctuate over the next several years but it sounded like you guys were saying that premiums will vary greatly after 2014, which doesn’t make sense if you are instituting reforms early.

  7. Alex

    August 24, 2010 at 10:57 am

    As rates go up two things happen those who cannot afford premiums have to drop insurance making medical services more expensive for those who can pay.

    Second there will be more people who can only afford the premiums not the copays and use regular insurance as catastrophic. This sounds good but with less people using the medical system everything gets more expensive.

    With incomes going down or stagnating over the last ten years and insurance premiums and out of pocket costs skyrocketing it is unsustainable for the insurance industry and the medical.

    My bets are on Primary Care Physicians who have cash only businesses being the wave of the future and people only carrying catastrophic insurance.

    BCBSNC current business model cannot succeed. You want more consumers across the board not fewer people who have to have insurance. They have already gotten their with the SHP if a dependent can do better the family gets other insurance instead of every family paying into the plan.

  8. Katie Steinbeck

    August 24, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Has anyone heard about the protest by the SEANC at Ken Eudy’s house this evening? It looks like pay to play at its best and BCBS is right in it AGAIN! Government contractors + fundraiser for the Senate Dem’s = conflict of interest at best. Dirty, dirty, dirty…

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