Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. One way we’ve done that is by providing our fellow Louisianians options to buy individual products on the exchange (healthcare.gov) established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Despite the instability of the individual market, we continue to offer our products on the exchange.
Last year, a federal district court in Texas struck down the ACA, ruling it unconstitutional. Yesterday, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals partially upheld the federal district court’s ruling—declaring the individual mandate to purchase health insurance, as required by the ACA, is unconstitutional.
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court sent the case back to the Texas court to determine which other provisions of the ACA, if any, should be declared unconstitutional, in addition to the individual mandate.
This will take some time for the Texas court to review. The Supreme Court of the United States will likely ultimately decide on the future of the ACA. Even if a final ruling is made that the ACA is unconstitutional, Louisiana law provides many of the consumer protections that were established under the ACA. These include a prohibition against insurers excluding coverage for people who have pre-existing conditions, dependent coverage up to the age of 26, no annual or lifetime benefit limits, and a listing of services that must be covered under comprehensive health insurance policies. If the federal and/or state government provides sufficient funding that mirrors subsidy amounts under the ACA, these consumer protections will remain in place in Louisiana.
We strongly believe the health insurance market, particularly the individual market, needs more stability and predictability. Changes are also needed to improve affordability while preserving access. Health insurance coverage – and specifically the number of uninsured - has a direct impact on costs and access to care. Because of this, the ACA’s impact extends far beyond those who purchase individual coverage or shop on the exchanges the ACA established. The final decision in this lawsuit may affect the millions of Louisianians who obtain health care coverage through their employers and through government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid.
We will work with lawmakers on a bipartisan basis to ensure that all Louisianians can access the consistent, quality health coverage they need and deserve. During the appeal process, Blue Cross will continue serving our members in accordance with the law. We understand this is a confusing time for many of our members, and Blue Cross stands ready to help them understand their options for coverage. Blue Cross also currently offers off-exchange individual products, as well as short term limited duration (STLD) medical products for the individual market. We encourage Louisianians to call a local health insurance broker for information about available options.