Blue Shield to Shutter For Four Days in September

Blue Shield of California has announced that it will close its doors for the four days after Labor Day to reduce its payroll-related liabilities, citing losses in the Covered California health insurance exchange.

The shutdown, lasting from September 5 to 9, will affect most of its 6,000 employees. The company estimates that it will save approximately $4 million.

Some Blue Shield customer service representatives and medical services staff are still expected to be on the job during that period. Provider relations will be closed.  However,  the company has noted that the following departments will remain open: Provider Customer Service, Provider Information and Enrollment, Claims Processing, and Grievances and Appeals.

If practices have urgent prescription and/or procedure authorization requests during, they can call Blue Shield’s Medical Care Solution line at (800) 541-6652 for assistance. According to the payor, this and all other critical customer facing departments will be staffed during the closure.

The shutdown will not affect those employees who work for Care1st, which Blue Shield acquired last fall, and some staffers in customer service and related areas who will remain on the job.

Blue Shield raised its Covered California rates by nearly 20 percent for 2017, citing the high costs of covering the exchange's enrollees. The payor said it drastically underpriced premiums for the state's exchange.

UnitedHealth Group, Humana and Aetna have announced that they will exit most Affordable Care Act markets, citing revenue losses.