The first major dividend of Insurance Commissioner Walter A. Bell’s Health Insurance Task Force will be paid beginning Oct. 1 when Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama offers a new program accepting uninsured Alabamians on an open-enrollment basis.
“One of the major areas of concern in our state is the access to availability of health insurance,” Commissioner Bell said. “I am delighted that as a result of the Task Force’s study on this issue, Blue Cross and Blue Shield has acknowledged a need and stepped forward with a product that is catered to the thousands of Alabamians who have slipped through the cracks.”
A study recently conducted by the Alabama Department of Public Health estimates that 500,000 Alabamians are uninsured.
The open-enrollment period is from October 1 through November 30. Alabama residents, who are under the age of 65 and currently uninsured, may inquire directly with Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
"This new program is a wonderful testament as to how government and private industry can work together to serve the public," Gov. Bob Riley said. "Some would have us create a government-run health care system. It is my belief that health care solutions are best found in the private sector. I am pleased that the insurance department helped provide the climate where Blue Cross and Blue Shield saw a need and accepted the challenge to provide affordable health care to uninsured Alabamians."
Commissioner Bell impaneled the Task Force last spring shortly after taking office. The impetus for the Task Force’s creation was the situation that left hundreds of Alabama physicians and surgeons without the ability to receive claims payments on medical malpractice policies. The focus of the Task Force expanded quickly.
“We have been exploring several areas,” Commissioner Bell said. “We are continuing to look for strategies to deal with the liability issue – for doctors, hospitals and nursing homes. We also have a responsibility to try to determine ways to make health care affordable for all Alabamians. These are the issues that we are wrestling with on this Task Force.
“It is gratifying that our Task Force can report this important offer from Blue Cross Blue Shield. The rates and terms, I believe, are affordable enough for thousands of Alabamians to seriously consider this program.”