Blue Cross policyholders aren’t entitled to profit from the pending sale, but this group might

Blue Cross
(File photo)

While Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana covers some 1.9 million Louisiana residents, only about 92,000 will get to vote on the potential sale of the company to Elevance Health. 

That’s because only owners of insured products issued by BCBSLA’s parent company have governance rights. HMO customers, people covered by self-insured plans, and members of employer-purchased group policies are not part of that number. 

Under the current proposal, most of the proceeds from the sale will go to set up a $3 billion foundation with a mission to improve public health in the state. Policyholders will get $3,000 each to compensate for their loss of voting rights, which for a large employer isn’t much money compared to how much they’ve spent in premiums. 

But if you bought an individual policy, especially if you did so with the benefit of federal subsidies made available through the Affordable Care Act, you could be in line for a small profit. 

“The subsidies can be very significant depending on your income,” says Michael Johnson, a former executive for Blue Shield of California who has been critical of the proposal. “There are people who, under the current plan, would get $3,000 and spent far less than that amount, so they would be making a profit from their Blue Cross coverage for the year.” 

Johnson doubts the governance rights are worth anything, and suspects the compensation is intended to win support for the deal. Blue Cross officials say they worked with outside experts to determine the fair value of those rights. 

A public hearing to discuss the possible sale of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana to for-profit Elevance was pushed back from August to October amid public skepticism. The deal would need approval of two thirds of Blue Cross policyholders and state Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon.