NU Online News Service, June 20, 2:47 p.m. – Empire Healthchoice Inc., New York, the parent company of Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, has submitted a new conversion plan to the New York State Insurance Department.

Empire has been trying for years to shift to for-profit status, from nonprofit status.

Regulators have scheduled two public hearings on the conversion effort for Aug. 6 in New York and Aug. 7 in Albany, N.Y.

Empire has not yet released a full copy of its new conversion plan, but the company has described the major differences in a notice posted on its Web site, at http://www.empireblue.com/about_empire/publicaffairs/forprofit_conversion_proposal.shtml

  • The 1999 plan would have restricted Empire’s ability to raise rates on individual accident and health insurance policies on its conversion date. The 2002 plan eliminates those restrictions.
  • The 1999 plan would have imposed five years of limits on rate increases for individual Medicare supplement policies in place before the conversion date, but Empire would have had to comply with the rate limits for only two years for newer Medicare supplement policies. The 2002 plan restricts Empire’s ability to increase any individual Medicare supplement policy rates for five years.
  • The older, 1999 plan would have effected the change in status by transferring Empire policies to subsidiary corporations. The new, 2002 plan would convert Empire itself into a for-profit insurer.