Posts Tagged ‘Highmark’

Health Insurance Is Going the Way of Retirement Plans

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Just a couple decades ago, American retirement plans made a big shift from pensions to 401k’s.  Instead of receiving a defined benefit pension, workers started contributing to plans and making their own decisions about how they would receive their money.  A lot of people are forecasting a similar change in the health insurance industry over the next 5-10 years.  Right now many employers offer health insurance in a defined benefit way.  They choose the exact health insurance options and you can choose to pay for the plan or opt to buy your own individual health insurance.  Insurance News Net posted an article from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bill Toland which says that “In 2020, Workers Will Decide (their own) Health Benefits.”

Many experts believe that the face of health insurance will change dramatically.  They forecast that people will shop online and choose the specific health insurance options that they want for themselves from private exchanges.  Companies will pay a certain stipend to their employees via a health account and that will go towards their health insurance plan costs.  If people choose a health insurance plan that is more than their employer stipend, they will have to pay the rest of the bill themselves.  They will shop in online private health insurance exchanges run by health insurers, like Highmark, or benefits consultants or brokers..  If an insurance company is running the exchange, all of the plans will be from them.  But if the exchange is run by benefits consultants or brokers, there will be plans from multiple insurance companies.  Plans will differ in prices and coverage.  Each exchange will likely offer around 6-10 different plans.

It was easier for large companies to make the pensions switch because they almost immediately saw huge cost savings.  It is a little different with the health insurance plans because although they will not see huge cost savings, they will see a large reduction in the amount of administration.  They are also offering better benefits to their employees, making them more competitive as employers.  But small and mid-sized employers will see even more benefits initially than the larger companies.  Experts predict that many smaller companies will make this switch to private exchanges in the next year and a half.  Larger companies will switch as well, but it will take a large employer like McDonalds or WalMart making the big move before many other make the jump as well.

Health Insurance Rates Only Part of Customer Satisfaction

Friday, April 29th, 2011

map PAPennsylvania health plans ranked higher in customer satisfaction than the national average in J.D. Power & Associates’ U.S. Member Health Insurance Plan Study.  According to “UPMC, Geisinger, Highmark lead Pa. customer satisfaction rankings” by Bob Graham of Insurance & Financial Advisor, UPMC Health Plan ranked the highest in Pennsylvania.  While health insurance rates are important to consumers, this study also looked at the coverage and benefits, customer service, communications, information, provider choice, claims processing, statements given, and the approval process.  UPMC scored 744 out of 1,000, well above the national average of 696 and significantly higher than Pennsylvania’s average of 714.

Geisinger Health Plan and Highmark BlueCross BlueShield followed UPMC in Pennsylvania’s rankings with scores of 737 and 735, respectively.  Capital Blue Cross and Independence BlueCross also scored higher than the state’s average.  Although Pennsylvania’s scores went down slightly in 2011, compared to 2010, four of the seventeen other regions surveyed saw much more significant declines.  Some of the insurance companies that scored lower than average in Pennsylvania were Highmark Blue Shield, CIGNA, HealthAmerica/HealthAssurance, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Aetna, and UnitedHealthcare.  Of the 34,000 insurance plan members surveyed, 2,684 were in Pennsylvania.

Highmark Collaborates with Blue Cross Blue Shield

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware (BCBSD) is now working closely with Highmark Inc. of Pennsylvania.  According to Blue Cross Blue Shield’s press release “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware Announces Affiliation Agreement with Highmark Inc.,” this business relationship will strengthen the cost-effectiveness of the two companies.  It will also allow Blue Cross Blue Shield to bring Delaware residents some new products and services.

BCBSD has been working for four years on new corporate planning techniques to save money while remaining a competitive and leading force in the local marketplace.  By working closely with Highmark, BCBSD will remain a non-profit organization while enhancing their operations in a cost effective way.  As it has gotten harder for small, independent companies to stay competitive because of cost increases in the medical field, affiliations like this will probably become more common.

Once the Delaware Department of Insurance finishes their approval process, the two companies will be able to work together on investments towards new systems and other business capabilities.  Compare health insurance costs and they will be better positioned to keep customers happy by sharing investment expenses and capital requirements.  They will reduce administrative costs by sharing not only costs but current capabilities and systems that the other may not have.

Highmark’s New iPhone App

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

phoneHighmark health insurance and A.D.A.M. have come out with a new iPhone application called Health@Hand.  A.D.A.M. provides health information and innovative solutions for benefits technology in the health industry.  They partnered with Highmark to launch this application which will be available to all members of Highmark through the online iTunes store.  Health plan members can now get a wealth of information right from their iPhones including articles, information on first aid, discounts on services, and local provider and facility information.

The Pennsylvania-based health insurance company’s Health@Hand was based off of their member’s specific plan and provider information.  It is possible that other Pennsylvania-based health insurers like UPMC health insurance could come out with similar plans through A.D.A.M. in the future.  Current Highmark plan members can use the GPS in their phone to locate specific doctors, specialties and facilities near them.  They can even get a map of the location and connect directly to the office via their phone.  Another unique option members have is the availability of information by simply touching a specific body part.  Members can even change the gender or age for specific information.  The product can also be downloaded by non-Highmark members through A.D.A.M. and iTunes.