New Small Group Rate for Blue Shield in July 2011

New Small Group Rate for Blue Shield in July 2011

Blue Shield Group Rate ChangeThank you for your continued support of Blue Shield. Now more than ever, Health Plans Online is committed to helping you manage and grow your business. To help you prepare for the third quarter renewal period, we’ve outlined below some key details:

  • February 18  a rate pass for new second quarter business. In addition, Blue Shield offered renewal date change options for your second and third quarter new and renewing groups.
  • The second and third quarter renewing groups may choose between two specific medical contract/policy (“contract”) terms. New business has contract term choices as well.
  • For the July 2011 rate cycle, your small group rates will increase, however, the average increases are lower than previous cycles with rate actions. Below are some highlights of this quarter’s rate increases1 :
Plan Rate increase
PPO (other than HSA-compatible)
Dental, vision or life2
  • Detailed rates can be found obtained by contacting Health Plans Online.
  • By popular demand,  the RAF program is extended until December 15, 2011.
  • There will be no new benefit changes to medical or specialty products for third quarter 2011.

For the latest information on our July 2011 rate cycle, please contact your Health Plans Online.

Blue Shield Small Group (April, May, June 2011 rate pass details)

In February Blue Shield announced a second quarter rate pass for new small group business. Blue Shield also delayed the rate increase for small groups otherwise scheduled to renew in the second quarter.

Today Blue Shield has an update for your impacted small group clients.

Second Quarter Renewing Clients – Changed Renewal Period

For small groups currently scheduled to renew in the second quarter of 2011 ONLY, Blue Shield is extending their current contract/policy term and changing their renewal period. Your second quarter renewing clients will receive an endorsement/amendment that will extend their 2010 contracts/policies from 12 months to 15 months, under the current contract rates. So this year, they will renew in the third quarter and not in the second quarter.

  • Members will be able to add dependents in their original renewing month as well as the extended renewal month.
  • At their original open enrollment, employees may add or cancel dependents (including adult age dependants), late enrollees may enroll and members would be able to cancel their coverage.
  • Group level changes (including plan changes) will be deferred to their new open enrollment 7/1, 8/1, or 9/1.  Members will be able to change plans at this time.

2011/2012 Second Quarter Renewal Schedule

Original 2Q 2011 renewal month Revised 2011 renewal month New 2012 renewal month*
April July April
May August May
June September June

2011/2012 Third Quarter Renewal Schedule

Original 3Q 2011 renewal month 2012 standard renewal month 2012 renewal month – 9 month option**
July July April
August August May
September September June
 *Groups may opt for a new 12 month contract upon request
**Third quarter renewing groups may opt for a 9 month contract upon request

 The renewal contract/policy that is offered to these groups in 2011 will be for a term of 9 months, returning them to their original renewal month in 2012. However, the group may elect to receive a 12 month renewal contract/policy in 2011 and have their renewal month change permanently to the third quarter. If your clients would like to opt for this, please contact RBG who will notify Blue Shield of your clients’ election prior to their 2011 renewal date.

 Third Quarter Renewing Clients – Renewal Period

Small groups that already have a renewal date in the third quarter of 2011 will be offered a 12 month contract/policy. However, in 2011 ONLY, third quarter renewing groups may elect to receive a 9 month contract/policy and have their renewal month change permanently to the second quarter in 2012. Groups must notify Blue Shield of their election for a 9 month contract/policy prior to their 2011 renewal date. 

Second and Third Quarter New Business – Renewal Periods

New small group clients with effective dates in the second and third quarter of 2011 can receive a standard 12-month contract/policy. However, new second quarter accounts may elect to receive a one-time 15-month contract in 2011 only, and new third quarter accounts may elect to receive a one-time 9- month contract in 2011 only. New second and third quarter accounts must affirmatively select their preferred 2011 contract/policy period. Please contact your RBG representative who can provide you with the contract/policy term election form when it’s available.

Groups with Vision Coverage

Please note that groups with Vision Standard, Vision Plus, or Vision Deluxe plans have an initial contract term of 24 months.

Blue Shield Health Reform Reporting Requirements

Blue Shield of California has advised that employers will  need to provide information due to Health Reform.

Employers will need to submit written confirmation about their contribution levels in order to maintain grandfathered status of their plan(s).  The written confirmation at each renewal will need to state that their contribution levels have not dropped by more than 5% since March 23, 2010. 

In the next few weeks, Blue Shield will provide their groups with an attestation letter. The attestation letter will be sent via mail, then the employer will need to complete it and fax back to Blue Shield. Their contracts will also be modified to state that employers must notify Blue Shield  if they plan to reduce their contribution levels. An attestation letter will also be sent to grandfathered groups that have already renewed with Blue Shield, as they continue to incorporate HHS guidance.  Grandfathered custom large group plans attest to this requirement at renewal and will not be sent the attestation letter.

Another responsibility focuses on W-2 reporting – which will be optional for 2011.  On October 12, the IRS issued a notice that makes benefits value reporting by employers optional for the 2011 tax year. (Note – this will be the W-2 issued in January of 2012 for the tax year of 2011.)

The ACA W-2 mandate requires that employers report to their employees the dollar value of their health coverage under employer-sponsored health plans. The Treasury Department and IRS have decided to make this an option for 2011 – giving employers more time to make payroll system changes and better prepare for and communicate the W-2 mandate.

We will, of course, provide you with updates as soon as they become available.

For more information please visit the Blue Shield of California website at