Blue Cross launches first private exchange for Mass. businesses

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has introduced the state’s first private online health care exchange to give employees greater choice in their health care plans, the Boston Business Journal reported Wednesday. More

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Blue Cross launches first private exchange for Mass. businesses

Posted 7/16/14

BOSTON – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has introduced the state’s first private online health care exchange to give employees greater choice in their health care plans, the Boston Business Journal reported Wednesday.

Under “My Blue Choices,” rather than setting a percentage contribution and giving employees two plans to choose from, employers insured by Blue Cross with more than 20 employees can select a defined dollar amount for their contribution toward employee health care costs and then let the employees choose from a preselected list of options at true market price.

In addition to giving employees more freedom over their benefits, Blue Cross said the new exchange will also help employers control their long-term health care costs, since contributions won’t be tied to a specific percentage that could increase the contribution under inflation or fluctuating medical plan costs.

My Blue Choices launched earlier this year and currently operates 12 accounts for Massachusetts companies. More than 5,000 Blue Cross accounts in the state are eligible for My Blue Choices, the BBJ said.

Last month, UnitedHealthcare of New England launched its Multi-Choice private health insurance marketplace for Rhode Island businesses with up to 100 employees, allowing small-business owners to define their level of financial contribution and give employees the choice to pick a plan that best meets their individual health and financial needs.

Although Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island President and CEO Peter Andruskiewicz has indicated that Blue Cross hopes to offer a similar private exchange in Rhode Island, no concrete plans for such an exchange have yet been announced.

Both UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross currently offer plans through HealthSource RI’s Small Business Health Options Program marketplace, but private carrier exchanges like Multi-Choice and My Blue Choices could represent competition for the state-run exchange.

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