Anthem prez: Expect 'crickets chirping' on Oct. 1

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Rob Hillman, president of Indianapolis-based health insurer Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Indiana, expects the Obamacare exchanges will eventually change everything for Hoosiers and small employers around the state.

But he doesn’t expect much of anything to happen Tuesday, the day the online marketplaces for buying health insurance officially open around the nation. And in fact, he doesn’t expect even one-third of the uninsured in Indiana to buy a health insurance policy next year.

“I really think that crickets are going to be chirping on Oct. 1,” Hillman said Sept. 25 during a panel discussion that was part of the IBJ Health Care Power Breakfast at the JW Marriott hotel downtown.

Hillman does expect activity to ramp up as Hoosiers start chattering about the Obamacare exchange on social media. But even then, he expects most uninsured Hoosiers to elect to pay a tax for failing to buy health insurance rather than to jump into the new marketplace.

Out of more than 800,000 Hoosiers that are uninsured during any given year, Hillman expects only about 250,000 or 260,000 to actually buy coverage next year. Some of that number are already eligible for Medicaid, and will likely sign up for that state- and federal-funded program, rather than pay Obamacare’s tax, or penalty, for not obtaining coverage.

“Although the other [insurers] are going to participate on the exchange, they are not Anthem's competition,” Hillman said. “The competition is the penalty.”

Those taxes start at $95 per adult next year and can go no higher than 1 percent of a household’s income. That initial low level of the penalty is why Anthem believes the penalty will win the competition for customers in the exchanges next year.

Even for a 21-year-old, the very cheapest catastrophic plan available anywhere in Indiana will cost $1,564 for the year, according to data released last week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In the Indianapolis area, the cheapest rate for a 21-year-old to obtain a high-deductible bronze plan is $2,341, and the cheapest rate for a gold plan with generous coverage policies will be $3,984. Of course, for Hoosiers with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty limit, these premiums will be lessened and in some cases eliminated by Obamacare's tax credits.

The Obamacare penalties for being uninsured will get stiffer, but will not approach the cost of buying insurance. By 2016, Hoosiers who don’t obtain health insurance will have to pay a tax of $695 per adult or as much as 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is greater.

Also, to try to hold premiums low, Anthem and other insurance companies have created so-called “narrow networks” of hospitals and doctors. This is an especially big change for Anthem, which has made the widest choice of providers one of its signature selling points for decades.

In the Indianapolis area, Anthem’s network will include Community Health Network, Wishard Health Services, and most of the members of the Suburban Health Organization, which includes the county-owned hospitals around Indianapolis.

Anthem’s network will not include the state’s three largest hospital systems—Indiana University Health, St. Vincent Health and Franciscan Alliance. Those three hospitals have all decided to participate in a narrow network health plan that will be sold on the exchanges by Indianapolis-based MDwise Inc.

“Our approach to the exchanges this year is to take a pretty cautious step into that and just participate in one plan,” said Julie Carmichael, chief strategy officer at St. Vincent, during the IBJ breakfast panel discussion. “I think one of the things I'm most interested to find out from the exchange is whether or not the concept of a narrower network is going to appeal to consumers. I think that's something we tried off and on in this market for years. It's never really been a very attractive product and I think this will be an opportunity over the next 12 months or so to see whether or not individuals are willing to have less choice in exchange for some better pricing.”


  • Word of Mouth
    All of the negative rhetoric, the back and forth school yard antics, and the failure to pre-test Healthcare Exchange Computer Interface Scenarios caused a poor rollout for ACA Healthcare Insurance Exchanges. It appears that the Kentucky Exchange System worked well and over 11,000 people were guided through the Kentucky System without a glitch. It will take "Word of Mouth" not advertising to grow the market, and as people learn that inexpensive healthcare insurance coupled with coverage for preexisting conditions can be purchased for well under $100 per month for middle to low income families, there will be an increased use of Healthcare Insurance Exchanges. As for the Anthem decision regarding local hospital coverage, the Exchange will help many people find a better healthcare insurance provider for a lot less money.
  • Seriously
    How is there no follow-up on this "prediction"? How is it news to these people (and journalists) that uninsured people vastly prefer insurance to bankruptcy?
  • Anthem Network
    JHim: Large hospitals will be in MDWise Inc network.
  • Anthem Hospitals
    Hospitals not in anthem network

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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.