How Lovelace sale will affect patients, employees

Created: 11/11/2013 10:17 PM
By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Monday brought a huge development in New Mexico’s health insurance business.

Lovelace Health Plan announced it is selling out to Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Lovelace hospitals and clinics will still be around.

Lovelace says it just can’t compete in the insurance business after it lost out on a bid for the state’s Medicaid program.

Tonight, New Mexicans are worried about their coverage and even their jobs.

Veterans Day should be a day to contemplate his service to our country, but U.S. Navy vet Phillip Dodge is instead contemplating some tough choices ahead.

"We're stuck in a limbo spot,” he said.

His family’s dream of moving out of their small Rio Rancho apartment and into a home may be dashed.

"I'm sitting here thinking we're going to have to cancel that because the price is going to be too much for us to take on,” said his wife Annamarie Dodge.

She is insured through Lovelace and pays about $300 a month for healthcare.

She’s scared that over time, Blue Cross Blue Shield will jack up her rates.

“I used to have Blue Cross Blue Shield when I was in California when I worked for the government and it was exorbitantly high," she said.

Lovelace Health Plan’s open enrollment is going on now until December 7th.

Blue Cross and Lovelace say members can keep the plans they sign up for, at the same rate for 2014.

Plus, members will have access to ABQ Health Partners.

“If you're coming to have a baby at Lovelace Women's Hospital, Lovelace Westside nothing changes,” said Ron Stern, President and CEO of Lovelace Health System. “If you're a senior 65 or older stay with Lovelace Medicare Advantage because you'll get those benefits in 2014. If you're commercial insured employer or employee stay with Lovelace it'll transition to Blue Cross. You can keep your doctors.”

But how much will coverage cost in 2015?

Blue Cross is hinting at what’s to come with this new agreement.

"We'll have a good contract that will allow us to provide services through those facilities at reasonable prices which will translate into reasonable premiums or as low premiums, best premiums we can offer,” said Kurt Shipley, president of BCBS. “Nobody is probably going to be happy with those premiums as you know. Healthcare is expensive.”

Another big question: What will happen to about 350 Lovelace Health Plan Employees?

“We have some employees are Lovelace Healthy Plan that will be transitioning to other positions,” responded Stern. “We've invited Blue Cross and they'll come next week to interview employees. There are some positions within the Lovelace Hospital System and for those who don't find positions there we'll help them with appropriate out-placement and additional job fairs to help everybody find a good position."

This is not a done deal yet. The agreement needs state and federal approval.

Still, several employees say they were shocked to hear the news and are scared they’ll lose their jobs by the end of the year.

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