Blue Cross of NC offers sound ideas to improve the ACA

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has been having a rough go of it lately, with a computer change causing tremendous headaches for consumers and the costs of the Affordable Care Act seeming to catch the company by surprise, producing heavy losses. Certainly there’s blame to be shared.

But BCBS has issued some thoughts on how to improve the ACA, which got off to a stumbling start with its own computer problems but since has indeed made it possible for those who have been without health insurance to have it.

BCBS suggests the following to improve the ACA:

1. Not allowing sign-ups outside open enrollment periods, because that leads people to sign on when they’re sick, get covered and then drop out when they’re cured.

2. Tightening the ACA mandate that people get insurance. Letting people avoid it, most of them healthy young people, undermines the idea of everyone being covered and affects the costs to individuals and insurance companies.

3. Cutting the grace period for people to pay their premiums. Now it’s 90 days, and insurers have to cover costs for 30 days in which premiums aren’t paid.

4. Having the government pay into funds that compensate insurance companies for their losses to help stabilize the market. Blue Cross’s losses – $400 million in 2014 – were in part caused by the government’s failure to fully pay to help cover losses, even though that was part of the ACA plan.

These are sound ideas aimed at ensuring coverage, not curbing it, and at preserving the ACA, not ending it. The company’s recommendations deserve consideration