My Fellow Vermonters,
The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) last week released the results of an intensive examination of the financial impact of the pandemic on Vermont’s health insurance marketplace. The report verifies that for the majority of our insured members, the temporary reduction in medical care in 2020 was offset by emergency health coverage expansions for pharmaceuticals and telehealth, the continued prevailing costs of specialty and maintenance drugs, the cost of COVID-19 testing and treatment, and the return of postponed medical care. Therefore, refunds are not necessary. We will work with DFR to meet the same expectations for the one segment where the report recommended consumer relief – in our upcoming 2022 Medicare Supplement rate filings.
Unlike many insurers, Blue Cross is a local, non-profit company. Our team works diligently to develop premiums that accurately reflect the true health care costs for our members, especially during the most recent period of uncertainty and turmoil. At the Green Mountain Care Board 2022 Affordable Care Act (ACA) rate hearing, we recommended an overall reduction in combined individual and small group health insurance premiums for the first time since the inception of the Affordable Care Act. This is possible because we provided $11.9 million of rate relief, and our efforts to contain costs outweigh the combined increases in specialty drugs and proposed hospital budgets that have continued an unabated rise throughout the pandemic. This is because Blue Cross is invested in our home state and the health of Vermonters.
We value our state’s health care public servants at the Department of Financial Regulation (DFR), the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB), the Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) and the Office of the Health Care Advocate (HCA) who continually demonstrate their commitment to rigorous government oversight, an inclusive and transparent process, and dedication to consumer protection. As we begin this recovery, we look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with these government stakeholders and Vermont’s provider community to address the drivers of health care costs and work together toward a more affordable, accessible health care system in Vermont.
Don George is the President and CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Vermont www.bcbsvt.com