Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Unveils Innovative New Health Plans For Small Businesses

(Providence, RI, 2.14.2011)
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Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) today announced that it is rolling out a new product portfolio for small business employers beginning with April 1 enrollment dates or plan renewals. The new health plan offerings are in response to employers who requested plan options that help moderate costs while continuing to deliver high-quality and affordable coverage for employees.

"We understand that providing health benefits to employees is one of the biggest challenges Rhode Island small businesses are facing today and that those businesses are looking for ways to reduce healthcare costs without passing them on to employees," said Corey McCarty, director of strategic marketing and product innovation at BCBSRI. "We believe our new offerings will deliver high-quality health coverage that encourages employees to take action on their health."

The new portfolio delivers 11 different options with features and benefits designed especially for small businesses. These plan options lower or eliminate certain financial barriers in the hopes of getting employees to treat chronic conditions to avoid more expensive medical treatment in the future. For example, some patients do not take their prescription medication because of cost, which can have numerous effects on their health. Many of our new plans offer reduced prescription drug copayments for chronic conditions such as diabetes, a disease in which half of all patients fail to take their medication as prescribed[1].

The plans provide wellness program incentives and a variety of deductible and coinsurance options to increase employee involvement in health improvement initiatives – a feature employers have been requesting. The new plans are as follows:

  • VantageBlue – With seven plan options within this suite, VantageBlue offers incentives for healthy living, such as $50 cash for the completion of a personal health assessment, and reduced copayments for certain prescriptions and services for chronic conditions. These plans also offer special programs for smoking cessation and losing weight as well as learning how to better manage conditions like asthma and diabetes.
  • BlueCHiP for Healthy Options – This plan option encourages employees to focus on their health by featuring wellness requirements, including annual preventive screenings or completing a disease management program that supports healthy lifestyle choices. This plan complies with the Rhode Island Office of the Health Insurance Commis­sioner's (OHIC) requirements for a HEALTHpact plan.
  • BlueSolutions for HSA – These two plan options are a good choice for employers who want to control premium costs but maintain quality of coverage for employees. They feature a higher deductible and the ability to set up an interest-bearing Health Savings Account (HSA), which allows employees to save for medical expenses.
  • HealthMate Coast-to-Coast Deductible Plan – Considered to be a more traditional plan, this option does not have coinsurance for in-network providers after the plan year deductible is met, providing 100 percent coverage for the employee.

All plans within the new portfolio provide coverage at 100 percent for preventive services, and all are available to new and current employee groups upon renewal beginning April 1, 2011. There also are optional benefits for Blue Cross Dental, acupuncture and vision benefits, and Group Medicare depending upon the plan chosen. In addition, BCBSRI is offering employers the opportunity to have benefits such as deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums calculated on a calendar-year or plan-year basis upon renewal. McCarty commented, "This new change in policy was specifically requested by employers that were looking for their benefits to align with their renewal date, and we are happy to offer the option within this product portfolio moving forward."

BCBSRI's new healthcare options are fundamental to the company's efforts to improve the health of its members and make healthcare more affordable. In addition to helping small employers manage their costs, BCBSRI is committed to helping keep hospital prices in line with inflation, changing the way physicians and providers are reimbursed to align with quality outcomes, and encouraging the use of less expensive, but equally effective, generic drugs. Through these and other efforts, BCBSRI is working hard to slow the growth of premium increases for all employers and members.

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is the state's leading health insurer and covers more than 600,000 members. The company is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit www.bcbsri.com and follow us on Twitter @BCBSRI.

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