Blue Cross Blue Shield announces departure from 85 Georgia count - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Blue Cross Blue Shield announces departure from 85 Georgia counties; including Chatham Co.

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Insurance provider Blue Cross Blue Shield announces that they're pulling out of over half the counties in the state of Georgia, including Chatham County.

The provider is the largest health insurer in the state of Georgia.

Blue Cross Blue Shield says that the decision stems from uncertainty in the White House. Congress won't give health insurance companies answers and President Trump has threatened to eliminate subsidies to help lower deductibles for customers with lower incomes. 
That's when the provider said they couldn't wait anymore. 

The company has agreed to offer coverage in the state insurance exchange in the 85 counties that will have no other health plans in 2018. 

"If you live in Chatham County, you can no longer have a good health insurance policy that will let you go to any doctor in the United States," says insurance agent Bill Lucas. "If you live in Bryan County, you can. Now to me, that's absolutely ridiculous."

One of those affected by this decision is 56-year-old Tony Parrish. Parrish has worked his whole life, but retirement may no longer be an option.

"I have absolutely no idea what to do," Parrish said. "I've worked hard. I've contributed. I've paid my dues. Now here it is, my turn, to start being able to kick back and take it easy and retire. I'm being told we're just going to leave you to flounder."

Parrish fears that the hard work he has endured and the sacrifices he has made won't be enough for his daughter.

"My father and mother both instilled in myself and my siblings a very strong work ethic and the idea that the American dream still existed," Parrish said. "If you worked hard and sacrificed, you could still get ahead. That's not a conversation I can have with my daughter."

That conversation has now shifted and Lucas says that if you have Blue Cross in Chatham County, it's not for the better.

"I'm probably going to get something in the mail, or an email saying these changes are coming," Lucas said. "It's probably going to tell you not to worry. That's absolutely the wrong thing to do. You need to worry. Because your choices are going to become extremely limited."

For Chatham County, the only other health insurance option will be Ambetter. This plan leaves many without options at all.

While Ambetter is less expensive than Blue Cross Blue Shield it does have fewer doctors and fewer facilities that patients can utilize. 

Bill Lucas has a client with a brain tumor, and her only other option is Ambetter. 

"She will not be able to keep her doctors or keep the treatment she's taking now, effective January 1," Lucas said. "How do you do that in the middle of cancer treatments? I don't know what she's going to do."

For people like Tony Parrish, that might mean starting a whole new life.

"I may well have to move." Parrish said "I may have to get out of Chatham County...because it's unattainable, it's unthinkable to be nearing retirement age and not have health insurance."

This unthinkable thought is now becoming a reality for many in Chatham County. 

Lucas says do not wait until January 1st to take action. If you live in Chatham County and have individual coverage with Blue Cross Blue Shield, the time to make a plan B is now. 

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