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BLUE CROSS OF CALIFORNIA
JAN 2008 SMALL GROUP RATE ROLL-BACK

Effective January 1, 2008, Blue Cross of Californiaís new business rates on most plans within the EmployeeElect and BeneFits portfolios will be reduced by five percent! Renewing groups starting January 1, 2008, will also take advantage of this lower renewal rate.
Please rest assured there are no medical benefit changes and this is not an early FOCAL.


Itís business as usual for the following innovative plans:
 

Rates for the following Blue Cross plans will not change with January 1, 2008, effective dates:
Health Savings Account (HSA) and Lumenos consumer-driven health plans.
PPO 3500 (HSA-compatible).
PPO 2400 (HSA-compatible).
Lumenos HSA 1500.
Lumenos HSA 3000.
Lumenos HIA Plus 3000.
Indian Tribe plans.
EmployeeChoice portfolio.
 

Please also note, rates for the EmployeeElect portfolio for groups of 51 to 99 will remain unchanged.
 

Lowered guaranteed RAF.
 

Blue Crossís lower enrollment size requirements make it easier for more AB 1672 new groups to qualify for a lower RAF. Health questions are not required. Furthermore, the lowest RAF available is .90 and RAFs are guaranteed for the initial 12 months from the medical coverage effective date.
The following guaranteed RAF continues from August 1, 2007, through January 15, 2008, effective dates:
Groups of 8 to 12 receive a .95 RAF.
Groups of 13 to 50 receive a .90 RAF.
New Dental Blue 100-80 plans offer more.
 

Blue Cross is introducing six new dental plans. They mirror the current Dental Blue 100 Metallic plans, but offer 80 percent out-of-network reimbursement. They also offer all the same benefits as the existing dental plans, but with added perks such as:
Higher out-of-network reimbursements (on par with the original Metallic plans).
Negotiated rates for non-covered services obtained in-network.
Negotiated discounts after calendar year maximum is reached.
The new Dental Blue may just be the alternative your clients are looking for to offset the January 1, 2008, Dental rate action.
 

Our take on Jan 2008 Rate roll-back
 

This is great news for two reasons. First, Blue Cross tends to be the first California health carrier to market with changes whether it's required changes in benefits or introduction of new technology and options. The fact that they are reducing rates mid-year is ultimately good for the California Small Group market. It means that competitive forces in the market are requiring them to reduce rates to compete with other health carriers in the market or that the increase in medical costs on the claims side has slowed more than they expected. They typically have a rate increase May 1st so a mid-year change like this is good news. They do not want to wait till next May to start these changes. Either way, it's good news. We can only hope it continues going forward in the California health insurance market.
 

As for the Dental Blue suite of plans, this is Cross' expansion of their dental networks to better compete with the Delta's of the world. This is an important step for them in offering a complete package to California small business for health, dental, and life insurance.

 

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