BCBSNC isn't waiting for Supreme Court decision to implement reform

Bradley Wilson, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, said his company isn't waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to issue its decision on the reform law's constitutionality. If it doesn't continue preparing for all the reform requirements, the insurer won't be ready in time, he told AISHealth.

"We do not have anything on hold," Wilson said. Assuming the Supreme Court upholds the reform law, Congress won't make any "meaningful" move to alter or repeal the law until after the November presidential election. At that point, the Jan. 1, 2014, deadline for the major reform provisions, including the health insurance exchange, would only be about a year away so it would be too late for Blue Cross to start preparing for exchanges.

But former insurance exec Bob Laszewski thinks insurers should take reform compliance slowly. While "you can't stop doing what you need to be doing," said Laszewski, who is now president of Health Policy & Strategy Associates. He said insurers should "slow-walk" the costly big decisions, according to AISHealth.

He believes that preparing for exchanges is similar to preparing to take over large self-insured accounts. Although there are certain differences, such as dealing with eligibility and obtaining government subsidies for qualified beneficiaries, insurers generally already know how to deal with "retail" marketing, he said.

Moreover, the Supreme Court's decision is expected next month and that's not enough time to take any substantive steps. Insurers will have 15 months after the court's ruling to decide whether to participate in the exchanges so Laszewski said insurers should just wait for the ruling.

Based on these considerations and the knowledge that the high court may issue its ruling as late as July 2, Laszewski said, "my advice [to health plans] is go have fun, and let's talk on July 3rd."

Even if the Supreme Court takes the most drastic route in striking down the entire reform law, payers may have no choice but to adopt some of the reform-type requirements as best practices just to stay alive and competitive in the market, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the AISHealth article

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