As Kansas lawmakers consider a proposal to offer cheaper health care coverage without guaranteed protections, two influential insurance companies are battling for public opinion on Twitter.
The Kansas Farm Bureau wants to sell an unregulated alternative to health insurance, arguing that Kansans who don't qualify for Affordable Care Act subsidies need more affordable care options.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas warns the Farm Bureau plans will exclude those with pre-existing conditions and won't provide comprehensive care, placing "real" health insurance carriers at a disadvantage.
"It's interesting because both entities are very influential, and it did create some division within the more conservative thought," said Sen. Kevin Braun, R-Kansas City. "It would have been better had the two of them been aligned."
Braun opted in favor of offering another choice when he joined the Republican majority last month in a 28-11 vote to pass Senate Bill 32. The legislation is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday in the House Insurance Committee.
BCBSKS has staked out its opposition on Twitter, and KFB is fighting back.
"Mental health is crucial to overall health — and your insurance provider should agree," BCBSKS said. "Senate Bill 32 won't cover these services."
"This is not true," KFB replied. "Why are you spreading misinformation?"
Both companies have posted FAQs about the bill, highlighting their different points of view. Farm Bureau said its plans may include preventative care services, maternity care, mental health treatment, and dental and vision coverage. Blue Cross said nothing requires those "may include" offerings, and anyone who signs up could lose access to chiropractors, optometrists, psychologists, immunizations, maternity stays or telemedicine.
"Insurance is regulated for a reason — to ensure everyone has access to quality care and needed services," BCBSKS said.
KFB's response: "Plans will voluntarily follow the ACA-mandated structure for appeals in denial of coverage, including both internal and external review options before appeals are exhausted."
Plans will voluntarily follow the ACA-mandated structure for appeals in denial of coverage, including both internal and external review options before appeals are exhausted. Kansas Farm Bureau has gone beyond the current law to assure public confidence. #ksleg #kshealthplans— Kansas Farm Bureau (@KSFarmBureau) February 25, 2019
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Farm Bureau said it expects to enlist 42,000 members for its plans, selecting and rating coverage based on an individual's medical history. The goal, the company said, is to cover as many people as possible. But KFB acknowledges some applicants won't receive coverage.
From the BCBSKS perspective, that means the plans will be exclusive to healthy young people. Those with pre-existing conditions, including pregnancy, cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure, could be rejected.
"To save money for the healthiest of Kansans, Senate Bill 32’s 'insurance' program is casting aside hundreds of thousands of Kansans to achieve reduced premiums for a select few," BCBSKS said.
To save money for the healthiest of Kansans, Senate Bill 32’s “insurance” program is casting aside hundreds of thousands of Kansans to achieve reduced premiums for a select few.
Learn more. https://t.co/6B6yeDsQ4D #ksleg pic.twitter.com/ZWeEbW6F2e
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KFB emphasized its 100 years of service to farm families and said health costs are a threat to those members.
"While BCBSKS execs are at their desk scheming the best marketing ploy to kill a bill providing options for Kansas farm families priced out of health coverage, those Kansans are busy providing care for their livestock," said John Donley, who represents KFB in the Capitol.
While BCBSKS execs are at their desk scheming the best marketing ploy to kill a bill providing options for Kansas farm families priced out of health coverage, those Kansans are busy providing care for their livestock. Support Kansas farmers and SB 32. #ksleg #notstockphotos pic.twitter.com/oa9WOpNLKX— John Donley (@JohnDonley4) February 26, 2019
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