By Richard Asinof
PBN Contributing Writer
PROVIDENCE – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island has pledged that new agreements between the health insurer and any provider will not include any limitations on sharing treatment cost data with its members, the R.I. Business Group on Health announced Wednesday.
The insurer’s new policy on cost transparency was made at the urging of the R.I. Business Group on Health, a coalition of more than 75 employers representing 55,000 local employees, according to Kate Kennedy, the RIBGH interim executive director.
The new policy was reached after RIBGH said it would not object to Blue Cross’s mid-year rate increase if the health insurer took immediate action to address the issue of cost transparency, according to Kennedy.
In response, Blue Cross has sent letters to its contracted providers to alert them about the new policy, according to Kennedy.
“The business community, one of the largest purchasers of health care, is working to bring meaningful changes that will reduce costs and improve value for purchasers and consumers,” said Don Nokes, RIGBH president.
“We are pleased that Blue Cross responded positively to our request and agrees with our commitment to increased transparency,” added Nokes. “This is a critical step towards ensuring that health care purchasers and consumers can access the information they need to make smarter decisions about health care cost and quality.”
Blue Cross praised the effort by RIGBH. “We are pleased to have the R.I. Business Group on Health as an active partner with Blue Cross in improving health care in Rhode Island,” said Peter Andruszkiewicz, president and CEO of Blue Cross. “Blue Cross is committed to working with all of our key stakeholders to lower health care costs, improve quality of care and increase transparency to our customers.”
In recent correspondence with Blue Cross and R.I. Health Insurance Commissioner Christopher F. Koller, RIBGH recognized the critical investments of Blue Cross and other insurers, including electronic medical records and patient-centered medical homes, to help bring about meaningful systems change as the state works toward an integrated model of health care delivery that rewards quality outcomes rather than volume, according to Kennedy.