Blue Cross scales back individual plans offered in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesota's largest health insurer is scaling back the plans it will offer to consumers who don't get coverage from their employers.The Star Tribune reports that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota will only sell individual health plans that have a narrow network that limits coverage to specific doctors, hospitals and drug benefits.

The decision announced late Thursday comes after the insurer experienced significant losses in the individual insurance market. It will affect about 103,000 Minnesotans who will need to find new plans at the end of the year.

Gov. Mark Dayton says his administration will work with people affected by the decision to ensure they can transition to new coverage when their current plans expire.

Blue Cross says it will continue to sell plans on the MNsure exchange.

Full statement from Gov. Dayton

“Minnesota employers and public health insurance programs provide the vast majority of our citizens with quality, affordable health coverage. This creates a serious and unintended challenge for the individual market: the Minnesotans who seek coverage there tend to have greater, more expensive health care needs than the general population. Blue Cross Blue Shield’s decision to leave the individual market is symptomatic of conditions in the national health insurance marketplace.

“Importantly, no one will immediately lose their health coverage as a result of this decision. Minnesotans affected by Blue Cross Blue Shield’s decision will have several months and many alternative coverage options available through the marketplace during the upcoming Open Enrollment period. I have directed my Administration to work with Minnesotans impacted by Blue Cross Blue Shield’s decision over the next several months to ensure they can easily transition to new, quality health care coverage for themselves and their families when their current coverage expires at the end of 2016.

“Over the last three years, 213,000 previously-uninsured Minnesotans, including more than 38,000 children, have gained access to quality health care coverage in our state. Our state’s uninsured rate has been cut in half, and is now the second-lowest in the nation. The decision made today by Blue Cross Blue Shield will not imperil that progress.”