North Carolina Insurance Exchange – Secrecy Shrouds Contracts

North Carolina House Bill 115, legislation written by the insurance companies, would create a health benefits exchange that is neither accessible nor transparent. Remember the North Carolina State Health Plan fight? For those who need a refresher, North Carolina signed a no bid contract with Blue Cross to manage the State Health Plan. The contract was secret, not even legislators could get a copy until public pressure forced it into the open.

It’s worth noting, by the way, that a few powerful Democrats, most of who are no longer in the General Assembly, signed the blank check to Blue Cross. It was not the GOP.

Now Blue Cross is at it again. House Bill 115 does not explicitly subject the board of the health benefits exchange, a board that will be controlled by Blue Cross, to the state open meetings law. And it does not subject the health benefits exchange to the state open records law. The toll free number created by the exchange under House Bill 115 does not require accessibility for people with disabilities. And House Bill 115 does not require that the exchange assist people with enrolling in insurance coverage.

It’s no secret why the insurance companies want to keep their dealings under wraps. But we’ve seen the damage these shrouded documents and proceedings can inflict. The GOP has a great opportunity to buck the influence of Blue Cross and create an accessible and transparent exchange.

Editor’s Note: Consumer groups in North Carolina have been active for several years in trying to peel  back the managed care onion. The State Plan fiasco was brought to a head by consumer activists wanting more accountability and transparency. Yet, some never seem to learn as continued strategies of secretive contracts rule the day. Inflated medical bills, lucrative contracts, billions of dollars at stake, leads credence to the old saying “Money influences behaviour.”