Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming announced Thursday that it will offer a total of $15 million in premium relief to employers and individuals — welcome news to all who have suffered economic hardships brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures.

The health insurance provider, which is the only one in the state of Wyoming, will first offer premium credits to large and small group employers equal to 50% of each group’s premiums billed for the month of November.

For those who receive coverage through the individual market, rather than through their employer, rebates totaling approximately $8 million will be available to them in early 2021.

Wendy Curran, vice president for care delivery and provider affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming, said the initiative is the first of its kind for the company, a far as she could recall.

“Our goal is to always try to help our members and businesses minimize their health care costs,” Curran said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been a unique circumstance for all of us, and as we started into the early days of the pandemic, we didn’t know what the impacts would be on us as a health insurer.”

Eventually, the company realized the premium credits would be a viable option for members.

The decision came after Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming had already waived out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 treatment for its members.

“Some people’s health care costs are expanding, and this just seemed to be the best way for us in terms of how we would do our part to address COVID,” Curran said. “We’ve tried to be a good neighbor to everybody, and I hope this is helpful.”

Denise Burke, a senior policy and planning analyst at the Wyoming Insurance Department, said the announcement was fairly unprecedented for a health insurance provider.

“In terms of health care, I’ve never seen it before,” she said of the credits.

Meanwhile, some auto insurance companies have also offered premium relief and extended grace periods amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Burke said.

“This is slightly different,” Burke said. “But it’s similar in that the way rates are set for insurers is based on anticipation of what claims will be and rating factors and risk.”

Diane Gore, president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming, said in a prepared statement that the company is recognizing the economic pressures that many of its members continue to face during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The challenges presented by this pandemic are unprecedented in the history of our company,” Gore said. “However, I know that if we, as Wyoming citizens and employers, work together, we will come out stronger in the end.”

Contact Richard Anderson at 732-7078 or rich@jhnewsandguide.com.

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