ABC7 SoCal Spotlight on health insurance

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(KABC)

Last year almost 13 million people nationwide signed up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, almost 10 percent of them were in California. In a new feature called ABC7 SoCal Spotlight, sponsored by Blue Shield of California, ABC7 took to the streets to give people the opportunity to ask questions and voice their concerns about health insurance.

These questions were then presented to Shayna Schulz, vice president of customer care and customer experience at Blue Shield of California.

"Blue Shield of California has deep roots in the state. We're the California-based nonprofit health plan, and we're been serving Californians for almost 80 years. Today, we serve nearly four million Californians, including 2.2 million from right here in Southern California," Shultz explained.

The first question was asked by Carmen Dandridge-Spiva from Ladera Heights.

"If Obamacare is repealed, what's going to happen to Covered California?"

Shultz responded, "That question is on a lot of people's minds, and the truth is, no one know the future of the Affordable Care Act or Covered California, but what we do know is that Blue Shield of California remains committed to our mission of ensuring all Californians have access to high-quality health care at an affordable price. We've seen a lot of changes in political leadership over the company's 78-year history, but one thing that hasn't changed is our commitment to our mission, we're not going anywhere."
The next question came from Travis Findley from Lakewood who asked why his premiums go up every year, and why the cost of his prescription drugs continue to rise annually.

Shultz answered, "Across the industry, premiums are rising as a direct reflection of the increasing cost of healthcare in California and throughout the country. To help make healthcare more affordable, we collaborate with many doctors and hospitals to improve the efficiency and quality of care provided to our members."

She then addressed Findley's concerns about the rising cost of prescription drugs.

"At Blue Shield, we strongly advocate for drug pricing transparency. We also support efforts at the state and national level to rein in prescription drug pricing to ensure it doesn't become a roadblock for patients' access to care. Our mission drives us to deliver healthcare that is sustainably affordable, so we will continue working to keep costs down and make quality care accessible for all Californians," she said.

SoCal Spotlight host Maria Solis then jumped in with a question of her own, asking Schulz to expand on the earlier comment that Blue Shield of California is a nonprofit health plan.

Schulz explained, "As a nonprofit, we've actually pledged to cap our net income at 2 percent of revenue. If we earn more than 2 percent in net income in any year, we can return the difference to customers or the community."

The final question came from David Andres from Altadena.

"My question would be, how has your model changed? Why is it that you were able to be profitable, acceptably profitable, a few years ago with lower co-pays and lower deductibles and now that's no longer the case."

Schulz replied, "You know, our model has changed over the last few years, due in large part to the Affordable Care Act. For instance, under ACA, healthcare consumers now have guaranteed coverage regardless of preexisting condition. While this is great news for consumers, it did have an impact on the cost of care. Blue Shield of California recognizes these challenges, and we remain committed to meeting them in a way that is consistent with our mission. Another way we're adapting our model is by shifting our focus to be more customer-centered. By listening to our members, we've learned a lot about their hopes, fears and needs when it comes to healthcare. Ultimately, we're here to help people feel their best. We believe all Californians deserve access to high-quality health care at an affordable price. Business models and technologies can change, but our mission will continue to be our driving force, now and into the future."

The ABC7 SoCal Spotlight was presented by Blue Shield of California. You can find additional information about Blue Shield of California on the company's website: BlueShieldCA.com.
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