Privatization of Blue Cross Plans: Public Benefit or Public Harm?
Conversions of Blue Cross plans to for-profit
status have the potential to remake the
corporate landscape of health care finance.
Absent regulatory intervention, current
trends could easily result in more than half
of Blue Cross subscribers being in for-profit
plans, a phenomenon far more significant than
the conversion of nonprofit hospitals.
Therefore, regulators’ deliberations over
conversion proposals are beginning to focus
on the health policy impacts. This chapter
surveys the full range of health policy
implications by analyzing all existing
studies of Blue Cross conversions and
reporting on the authors’ own case studies of
conversion impacts. These studies conclude
that conversions have not caused major
negative impacts on the availability or
accessibility of health care in the states in
which conversions have occurred so far.
However, a great deal of uncertainty exists
about the actual effects of previous
conversions, and each state is unique;
therefore, even if the historical record were
clear, it is difficult to predict with great
certainty what the actual effects will be in
another state undergoing a Blue conversion.
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