Blue Shield of California Plan Overview
The new replacement plans are the Shield Secure Plus PPO, Shield Secure PPO, Shield Wise PPO, and the Shield Saver plans. Each of these plans offers similar benefits with the main difference being the number of office visits and copays, the deductibles, the coinsurance percentage, the maximum out of pocket limit, and the prescription benefits. Each of the Shield plans offer two or three deductible levels so the benefits a person needs can be better matched by one of the new offerings.
The Shield Secure Plus PPO plans offer unlimited office visits for a $30 copay along with a 30% coinsurance and a $500 brand prescription deductible, while the Shield Secure PPO plans offer the same unlimited office visit copay with a 40% coinsurance and a $3000 brand prescription deductible. The Shield Wise PPO plans offer 2 office visits for a copay ($25, $35, or $45 depending upon the plan) along with a coinsurance (25%, 35%, or 45% depending upon the plan), and a $3000 brand prescription deductible. The Shield Saver plans are Health Savings Account (HSA) compatible and offer no benefits until the deductible is reached.
Blue Shield Cost Comparisons
Looking at how these new Blue Shield plans compare to the other California health insurance company plans that will be available in July, shows that the new Shield plans may not be very price competitive in some age groups and regions of the state. In San Diego county, the price for a 30 year old woman in the Shield Wise 4500 plan is $154/mo. This compares to a $104/mo cost for the Anthem Blue Cross ClearProtection 3300 plan with “somewhat comparable” benefits, and a $143/mo cost for the CIGNA Open Access Value 3000 plan with slightly better benefits than the Blue Shield plan.
Comparing the new HSA plans from Blue Shield shows that the Shield Saver 6000 plan costs $220 for a 45 year old woman in San Diego. At Anthem Blue Cross the Lumenos HSA 5950 Plus plan costs $202 and at CIGNA the Health Savings 4900 costs $207/mo. Both the Anthem and CIGNA plans actually offer lower deductibles and a lower cost that the Blue Shield plans.
If we compare plans with greater benefit levels and across a couple of age groups (30 and 45 year), the results are pretty similar. Therefore, it looks like the new Blue Shield of California plans are simple to understand, and give consumers an ability to select the level of benefits they want, but these conveniences will require that the buyer be willing to pay more for the plans. This doesn’t look good for market acceptance and I expect we’ll see changes next year to correct this problem. It wasn’t that long ago I was saying that Anthem Blue Cross had lost it’s competitive edge (see Anthem Blue Cross Slipping Out of Top Spot in California Health Insurance) and was giving up the lead to the other insurance companies in California, now Blue Shield appears to be taking that role.
The SPF Insurance Services health quote engine currently has the prices for new Blue Shield of California plans, so stop by and check out the rates!
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