Alabama Blues documents reform taxes on member bills

Alabama Blue Cross Blue Shield has started itemizing reform taxes on bills, labeled "Affordable Care Act Fees and Taxes," sent to their members. The move is noteworthy because insurers rarely include taxes on their bills, according to Mark Hall, a law professor at Wake Forest University, reported Kaiser Health News.

By including the taxes on its invoices, Alabama Blues could be attempting to bring the public into the fight against the fees, which the insurance industry strongly opposes, Kaiser Health News noted. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini has said the insurance tax will end up costing his company about $600 million in additional fees, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

Alabama Blues spokeswoman Koko Mackin said the company's line item for reform taxes includes a $2 per member fee for the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, a premium tax that adds about 2 percent to consumer costs, a user fee of 3.5 percent to sell plans through health insurance exchanges, and reinsurance and risk-adjustment fees that create additional support for insurers with big medical claims.

The tax amount listed for one Alabama Blues member was $23.14 a month for a total of $277.68 annually, the article noted.

Despite this accounting of the fees and taxes, Hall questioned how Alabama Blues calculated the amount so exactly. "One thing that bothers me is attributing any amount specifically to the 'Affordable Care Act,'" he told Kaiser Health News. "There are also state premium taxes, and normal corporate and sales taxes, none of which are itemized the same way."

A study commissioned last year by America's Health Insurance Plans found the insurance tax required under the reform law would increase consumers' insurance costs by as much as $7,000 over the next 10 years.

To learn more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article