Arizona Blues, Banner Health create Medicare Advantage plan

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona is hoping to take advantage of the lucrative Medicare market by joining forces with one of the state's largest healthcare networks to create a new Medicare Advantage health plan.

Known as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Advantage, the new plan will initially cover the 22,000 people already enrolled in the Medicare Advantage plan available through Banner Health, a health system operating 23 statewide hospitals, which will become the plan's exclusive provider network, reported The Arizona Republic.

The new health plan will be a 50-50 venture between the insurer and health system. "We have equal ownership of the entity and governance of the entity," said Sandy Gibson, executive vice president of internal operations at Blue Cross, according to the Phoenix Business Journal.

"We're both nonprofits and we both see with the growing Medicare population with baby boomers aging that it's an area that we wanted to combine forces to provide better service and more products to that customer segment," said Chuck Lehn, CEO of Banner Health Network.

Under the deal, Banner Health will assume a governance position and Blue Cross will tackle most of the plan's daily operations, Health Leaders Media reported. Gibson said Blue Cross is still determining whether it will need to hire more staff to operate the new Medicare Advantage plan. 

To learn more:
- read the Arizona Republic article
- see the Phoenix Business Journal article
- check out the Health Leaders Media article