By: Amy Yurkanin
June 18, 2015
Gov. Robert Bentley signed two bills earlier this month that limit the ability of most insurance companies to dictate prices charged by eye doctors and dentists.
But the new laws won’t apply to the state’s largest insurance company – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama – because both bills specifically excluded the non-profit company.
Michael O’Malley, executive director of the Alabama Association of Health Plans, said the exemption is a flagrant example of special treatment.
“I’ve been in the Alabama market for more than a decade,” O’Malley said. “Blue Cross Blue Shield has always been a monopoly, but this is the first time they’re acting like one.”
The association represents all the other health insurance companies in the state except Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama. Blue Cross Blue Shield has about 90 percent of the health insurance market in Alabama, which make the state the least competitive for health insurance, according to a study last year by the American Medical Association.
The two bills address similar issues, but one is geared toward dental practices and the other takes on optometry. The legislation keeps insurance companies from setting prices for services that aren’t covered under their plans.