The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law March 23, 2010 by President Obama, includes a broad range of provisions that will impact Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, its customers, providers and others over the next decade.
This historic legislation is likely to bring a diverse array of changes in the health care system, especially in terms of its primary purpose in expanding coverage.
In many ways, it is too early to determine how Wellmark’s customers will be impacted. Most major components of reform are phased in over several years. Some changes will become effective soon (e.g., the establishment of a national risk pool within 90 days, and elimination of pre-existing exclusions for children under 19 within six months). The federal reform legislation will also be supplemented by many federal agency regulations.
Wellmark has already begun and will continue an intensive review of the federal reform legislation on behalf of our members. As the nation implements federal health care reform, we intend to continue to work collaboratively with providers, employers and consumers to ensure that coverage is not only accessible but also affordable.
Wellmark is focusing considerable attention and resources on the underlying drivers of health care costs, and recently embarked on a major initiative to create a sustainable health care system that “bends the cost curve down” over the long term. Our goal is to reduce the annual increase in health care costs to the level of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, by 2014.