CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — After completing statewide research, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee launched a new website to help educate shoppers, especially first time purchasers, about the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Research showed that those between the ages of 26 and 35, also known as millennials, have a lot of questions about insurance in general and about new benefits and financial assistance for the shopping on the Marketplace.
The new website – BCBST.com/KnowNow – will serve as a resource to those who are shopping for insurance for the first time or have questions about new benefits and options for individual coverage. It will help guide shoppers through applying for financial assistance and selecting the right benefits for themselves and their families.
“Our research showed that all ages and demographics valued health insurance and want to have it, but many have the perception they can’t afford it,” said Carla Raynor, vice-president of strategic marketing for BlueCross. “But Millennials in particular wanted an online resource for education that they could access at their convenience. We feel this website will help them prepare to make important coverage decisions in October when they can make their selections.”
Surveys and small group discussions demonstrated that even with simplified language, there remained a lot of questions about how the Marketplace would work and who was eligible. Participants said they wanted more resources, especially online.
Five key areas that needed more understanding were identified by those who participated in the research.
• Cost: Millennials were most concerned about monthly cost, but also about out of pocket cost and deductibles. The new website addresses how the health care law provides tax credits to eligible participants. Low monthly premiums and zero deductibles were top-rated priorities.
• Coverage and Quality: Millennials were concerned about buying a plan that offered quality coverage and were unaware of the differences in the plans that will be sold on the Marketplace. BlueCross’ website explains these differences and that all plans provide the essential health benefits.
• Marketplace Information: The most often asked questions were “How can I get the best deal on a health plan?” and “How can I access the financial assistance?” Though the ability to confirm eligibility and apply for tax credits opens with the Marketplace Oct. 1, the educational website gives shoppers resources and the ability to lookup terminology and potential options.
• Tax Credit: All age groups were interested in learning more about the tax credit (financial assistance). Information on how the credit will be calculated and the options are available beginning Oct. 1, 2013 and shoppers can start on this website. Explanations of the tax penalty for not having insurance are also addressed.
• Eligibility: The new website will direct shoppers on the process to determine eligibility. Those that already have coverage through their employer or who are Medicaid-eligible generally do not qualify for tax credits on the Marketplace.
BlueCross has been working to develop a variety of products to ensure that Tennesseans have the options and choices they need.
“We’re the only health plan to offer product choices statewide,” Raynor said. “This is part of fulfilling our mission to serve Tennesseans and it’s the right thing to do. We realize this is a complex process and people have a lot questions. This is just one of the ways we’re working to educate these potential customers about their options.”
More than 1,000 Tennesseans participated in the research, either through small group studies, questionnaires or online surveys.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee’s mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.bcbst.com.