Subtitle Improvements to individual insurance market would provide access to coverage to 4.2 million more people WASHINGTON – The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) today proposed a series of steps to reduce premiums for those who buy insurance through the individual market and expand access to coverage for more than 4 million additional people. The proposals would cut premiums by a third and increase enrollment, in part, by adjusting existing federal programs for financial assistance so that more people qualify, while providing a means to help pay for the care of those with the most significant medical needs. Since its implementation, the Affordable Care Act has made insurance coverage available to millions who previously were uninsured, and 90 percent of Americans now have health coverage. But the marketplace has been marked by instability, and rising premiums have made purchasing coverage difficult for those who do not receive financial assistance. “We believe everyone should have access to coverage and care, no matter who you are or where you live,” said Scott Serota, president and CEO of the organization that represents the 36 locally owned and independently operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. “The individual market is a critical source of coverage for people from all walks of life, and it should be strengthened to make coverage more affordable while protecting those with pre-existing conditions.” Key BCBSA proposals include: Enhanced tax credits to make coverage more affordable, particularly for younger people. The expanded financial assistance would be structured so that no one purchasing in the individual market would pay more than 12 percent of income for health insurance. Establishment of a sustained, federal funding system to support the cost of caring for those with the most significant medical needs. Enhanced outreach and enrollment efforts to encourage more people to obtain and maintain insurance coverage. If all proposals were fully implemented, BCBSA estimates that premiums in the individual market would drop by an average of 33 percent, and an additional 4.2 million people would be able to obtain coverage. “Congress should build on what we have and act to stabilize the individual market,” said Serota. “We’re offering common-sense solutions that we believe can gain bipartisan support and protect consumers.” Read the full BCBSA policy proposal. Read the Oliver Wyman analysis of BCBSA’s proposals.