Thursday, September 16, 2010


[Important updates below]

An anonymous (but vetted) reader tells us that HCSC (the holding company for Blue Cross Blue Shield franchises in Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, and the fifth-largest health insurer by enrollment) is in "lock down mode" following a gag order imposed last Friday (September 10, 2010). If any of our readers have details, we'd appreciate a heads' up as soon as possible.

Just drop us a line here, and your information will be treated as confidential.


Clarification: I was very hesitant to run with this because so many details are lacking, but my correspondent is very credible, and there does seem to be some urgency involved. I did leave voicemail with both HCSC media contacts (and emailed them, as well). There's nothing about it on the corporate website, but that's not necessarily indicative of anything untoward. There may be nothing to this, but again, this came from a reliable source, and it seems relevant to what we do here at IB. We'll keep you posted.

UPDATE [1:10PM]: Just spoke with HCSC media contact Ross Blackstone, who assured me that there is no "gag order" in place.

It's worthwhile noting that, as Megan McArdle hints, it is disturbing that the actions of the folks behind ObamaCare
© make claims of a gag order credible. Thankfully, these fears appear to be unfounded in this case.

By the way, I ran this story early because, if there had been a gag order, there was no way to know if and/or when I would have received corroboration. A vicious circle.

Another twist [4:00PM]: This may, in fact, be a self-imposed "gag order.". On an insurance agents' forum, we find this post (#14):

"BCBS-IL just sent out a Special Bulletin to the field telling us to stop talking to our customers about what BCBS-IL may be doing in regards to healthcare reform. It also said that BCBS-IL will communicate with us when they have something to say.

They're probably about to implement a big rate increase for the 101 new preventive services. Wait a minute, they can't do that without state approval now...right? Could take MONTHS. Since all the brochures were removed from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois - Health Insurance Illinois - BCBSIL website this afternoon, a "hold" on sales may coming?

That certainly explains why my correspondent was unsuccessful in communicating with folks inside HCSC.
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