For-Profit Conversion of Blue Cross Plans: Public Benefit or Public Harm?
Mark A. Hall
Wake Forest University - School of Law
Christopher J. Conover
Duke University - Center for Health Policy, Law and Management
Annual Review of Public Health, Vol. 27, April 2006
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.
Keywords: health insurance, nonprofit, conversion
Date posted: January 11, 2008