Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Offers Financial Assistance for Direct Pay Plans

(Providence, RI, 5.26.2010)
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Guaranteed Coverage, Affordable Options, and Premium Assistance Available for Individuals and Families Ineligible for Group or Federal Plans

With 12.6 percent of Rhode Islanders unemployed, those who lack health insurance might want to know that Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) provides financial assistance for qualifying members who purchase their health insurance coverage directly from BCBSRI. The open enrollment period for purchasing health insurance directly from the local insurer began May 15 and continues through June 15.

AccessBlue is a BCBSRI financial aid program that helps qualifying low-income individuals and families by paying a portion of their BCBSRI premium each month. About 26 percent of direct pay subscribers take advantage of AccessBlue, and BCBSRI anticipates providing approximately $2.7 million in assistance over the next 12 months.

Rhode Island residents who enroll in one of the BCBSRI direct pay plans may qualify for assistance and apply to the program if they: meet income requirements; are not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, RIte Care, or other state or federal programs; and they are not eligible for group coverage by their employer or a spouse's employer (other than a self-employed individual).

For example, a family of four with an annual household income of $44,000 or less would qualify for a monthly subsidy of $154 a month. A family of six with a household income of up to $103,355 would receive $102 per month.

Since launching in 2006, BCBSRI subscribers have benefited from more than $4 million in assistance. In addition to premium assistance, some direct pay plan subscribers may qualify for lower rates based on their age, gender, and health status through BCBSRI's preferred rate program.

BCBSRI is also the only health insurer in the state that offers guaranteed coverage regardless of health status or preexisting conditions. Because of the guarantee, direct pay plans are a very good alternative to Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (a.k.a. COBRA) coverage.

COBRA is a federal law that allows some former employees, retirees, spouses, and dependent children the right to continue their health coverage temporarily at their former employers' group rates. BCBSRI's direct pay plans may also provide a more affordable alternative for unemployed Rhode Islanders who are covered or are eligible to be covered by COBRA or who have exhausted their COBRA eligibility.

Open enrollment for direct pay plans continues through June 15. For more detailed information about direct pay plans and AccessBlue, call (401) 351-BLUE (2583) or 1-800 505-BLUE (2583), or visit BCBSRI.com.

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is the state's leading health insurer and covers more than 600,000 members. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

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