Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico increased premiums last week for more than 30,000 of its policyholders, making this rate increase the second in three years. The rate increase is projected to affect only those with individual plans and is not intended for those in-group plans of employer-based programs. Increased by 6.9%, Blue Cross Blue Shield felt the boost was necessary to avoid more serious action that may have included a disruption in services to rural areas. Healthcare in rural areas is typically more expensive, creating a larger gap in the loss of $7.2 million in the past year on individual policies, which is strange considering their limited access to convenient and quality health care. Due to the popularity of Blue Cross Blue Shield, which is the only provider to insure those in every part of New Mexico, this rate increase is likely to affect upwards of 31,000 policyholders.
Patients in rural areas, especially with high-deductible plans have to consider the fact that they often times have to travel hours out of their way to find a provider covered by their policy, and even then, who is to say that the provider is a good fit for them? When patients in rural areas are affected this drastically by a shift in healthcare coverage and costs, it is important for them to explore all options. Price shopping websites that provide information on price and quality is hard to find, but Save On Medical does a good job of connecting price sensitive patients to good providers, saving additional costs by allowing patients to book and pay for the appointment ahead of time online at discounted self-pay prices. Of course shifting to a single-payer health care plan is not an appropriate plan for others, but all patients must do their due diligence and investigate to see which path is best suited for their families and themselves.