Letter From Anthem BlueCross BlueShield Presumes I Don’t Understand Affordable Care Act

preventiveKim received a solicitation in the mail from Anthem BlueCross BlueShield offering her the opportunity to apply for guaranteed health insurance coverage. This plan offers appealing benefits like no copay for routine screening tests or immunizations. Sounds great! Except it’s not.

There’s nothing factually inaccurate about this letter. It just omits important information. Anthem does sell policies that have these features, and they do accept people who have been sick before in their lives. The thing is, these great benefits are the bare minimum benefits that all insurance plans have to have under the Affordable Care Act.

It’s a bit like advertising a car by bragging that it has tires and a windshield. Yes, that’s true, and you could advertise a car by bragging that these are great features that your vehicle has, but everyone knows that cars, by definition, have to include those things. Not everyone knows what health insurance plans are supposed to include. “Blue Cross Blue Shield is taking advantage of Obamacare ignorance,” Kim wrote to Consumerist when she sent us a copy of the letter.

Here’s what she received:


There’s nothing incorrect about any of the things that this letter says. It’s just that there are a few things missing. First, that (except for access to the BlueCross BlueShield network) these are all things that health insurance plans are now legally required to have.

Second, it encourages Kim to apply directly to Anthem, not to go through her state’s health insurance portal or Healthcare.gov. She lives in Connecticut, for example, where residents can shop for insurance through Access Health CT. Applying through the marketplace is the only way to get subsidies to help pay for insurance if you’re eligible. The portal also has an important feature that going right to Anthem doesn’t: competitors. Anthem sells insurance through Connecticut’s exchange, but so do several other companies.

If you’re looking to learn more about the current health insurance landscape in general Affordable Care Act in particular, check out our sibling site, Consumer Reports’ Health Law Helper.

What are my preventive care benefits? [Healthcare.gov]
Watch out for marketplace website lookalikes [Consumer Reports]
What insurers aren’t telling you about your canceled health plan [Consumer Reports]
Why should a childless man have to buy maternity coverage? [Consumer Reports]

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