Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) is making changes to our Affordable Care Act (ACA) health plans for 2019. Since your plan is affected, we want you to be among the first to know.
While Duke Health and WakeMed remain our close partners, your Blue LocalSM with Duke Health and WakeMed health plan will not be offered next year. To ensure you remain covered, Blue Cross NC will move you into a new ACA health plan for 2019: Blue ValueSM with UNC Health Alliance. It will have similar benefits to your current plan — including the same deductible. And while the provider network will be different, most members will see a lower monthly premium next year before any subsidies from the federal government are applied.1 Of course, you'll also have the chance to shop around for the best option for you and your family once Open Enrollment kicks off on November 1.
Why we’re making this change
Blue Cross NC strives to help our members get the highest-quality care, at the lowest possible price, with best-in-class customer service. Unfortunately, many people with an ACA health plan have seen their premiums go up in recent years. We’ve been working hard to address it.
As a part of that work, Blue Cross NC has reached an agreement with UNC Health Alliance. This agreement allows us to offer a similar product that has similar benefits — but at a lower price. That plan is Blue Value with UNC Health Alliance.
Keep in mind that your Blue Local with Duke Health and WakeMed plan will stay in effect through December 31, 2018. So, no changes are needed at this point. You should keep using your health plan like normal for the rest of the year.
What you can expect from Blue Value with UNC Health Alliance
UNC Health Alliance is UNC Health Care’s physician-led clinically integrated network. It includes both independent and UNC Health Care-employed providers. They partner with top-rated physicians, practices, urgent care centers and hospitals throughout the state. So, you’ll have access to more than 900 primary care doctors and 2,500 specialists across 700 locations.2 On top of that, you'll have access to Blue Value's limited statewide network of providers as well.
One major difference between your current plan and your 2019 health plan will be the provider network. Duke Health and WakeMed will not be in the Blue Value with UNC Health Alliance network. That means you will pay out-of-network rates — which are much higher than in-network rates — if you see a Duke Health or WakeMed doctor after December 31, 2018.
You should continue seeing your current doctor through the end of this year. If you'd like to begin exploring care options for 2019, you can look up doctors in the Blue Value with UNC Health Alliance network here. And we’ll offer more support with this transition as we get closer to Open Enrollment.
One advantage of a clinically-integrated network like UNC Health Alliance is coordinated care. It provides a seamless patient experience that’s efficient, safe and easy to navigate. The focus is on you and meeting all of your health care needs.
We’ll share more details about Blue Value with UNC Health Alliance over the coming months.
How you can get a head start
One reason we’re reaching out early is to help you prepare for this year’s Open Enrollment. Here are three things that’ll give you a head start.
First, set up Blue ConnectSM. If you haven’t joined our member site yet, take a minute to register now. It’ll play a major role in the Open Enrollment process. You can also download the Blue Connect MobileSM app on your smartphone or tablet. With the app, you can get a digital ID card, pay your bill, find in-network doctors, contact customer service and more.
Next, verify your contact information. That way, you won’t miss any important news during Open Enrollment. Visit “How We Contact You” in Blue Connect and click the “Contact Information” tab. Make any updates needed to your mailing address, email address and phone number. You can now set up text messaging, too. Just select the “Delivery Preferences” tab and check the box for text messages.
Finally, think about your health care needs. It’s a good idea to tally how much you spend on medical services and prescriptions in a year. This Health Care Summary Report on Blue Connect is a great place to start. Once Open Enrollment begins, it’ll help you decide if the Blue Value with UNC Health Alliance plan you’re placed into will meet your needs.
Change can be frustrating, so our goal is to make this transition as smooth as possible for you. We’ll provide information and support during each phase of Open Enrollment. That way, you can feel confident about the choices you make.
Your rate notice will arrive in the mail by October 1. It’ll have details on your 2019 Blue Value with UNC Health Alliance plan — including your new monthly premium. Rates will not be available until these notices go out. But if you have other questions in the meantime, send us a secure Blue Connect Inbox message or reach out to your authorized Blue Cross NC agent.
We’ll be in touch again in early October to help you get ready for the start of Open Enrollment on November 1. Until then, take good care!