MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wash., March 12, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Premera Blue Cross, a leading health plan in the Pacific Northwest, today announced $250 million in investments over five years across Washington and Alaska to help stabilize the individual market, improve access to care in rural areas and support local communities in their efforts to address the behavioral health issues impacting their residents.
Premera also announced it has notified Washington and Alaska state regulators that it remains committed to serving customers in the individual market in 2019. The company pledged to help ensure continued stability of the Alaska market as well as guaranteed that no one in Washington will be left without at least one health insurance choice in the individual market in 2019.
These investments are made possible because of recent changes to the U.S. corporate tax system resulting in a one-time-only refund for the company.
“This refund has given us an unexpected opportunity to reach beyond our own company to further address the critical health care needs of the communities where we live and work,” said Premera President and CEO, Jeff Roe. “I am especially pleased to continue our commitment to the individual market and build stability for families in Washington and Alaska.”
Premera will focus its customer and community investments to address three key areas:
- Customers and market stability, including investments to benefit our customers such as ensuring continued stability of the Washington and Alaska individual markets and a guarantee that all counties in Washington will have at least one health insurance choice. The tax savings are expected to trigger premium rebates for individual and small group customers under the medical loss ratio provision of the Affordable Care Act. Premera also expects to return nearly $10 million in taxes charged to large group customers in 2018.
- Improved access to health care in rural areas, including initiatives to attract and support health care providers in rural areas as well as offering enhanced telemedicine and tele-psychiatry programs.
- Behavioral health, including a nearly $40 million commitment over five years to support efforts across Washington and Alaska to address a wide variety of behavioral health issues such as addiction and adverse childhood experiences, with a specific focus on how these issues impact homelessness.
Further investments in these areas will be identified and made over the course of the next four years. The company looks forward to continuing to work with state regulators to address the critical healthcare needs in Washington and Alaska.
Premera, like other Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, was first required to pay federal taxes as part of the Tax Reform Act of 1986. The 2017 Tax Reform Act directed the federal government to refund certain prior tax payments to eligible companies over a four year period.
Premera Blue Cross, a not-for-profit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association based in Mountlake Terrace, Wash, is a leading health plan in the Pacific Northwest, providing comprehensive health benefits and tailored services to approximately 2 million people, from individuals to Fortune 100 companies.
A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/0c5f94fa-7872-466b-bca8-bc1abc1f4df3
Steve KippPremera Blue Cross206firstname.lastname@example.org