Highmark's new tiered benefit in North Central Pennsylvania designed to lower health care costs for businesses

CAMP HILL, Pa., March 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Highmark Blue Shield is offering a new benefit in nine counties in North Central Pennsylvania designed to hold down health insurance costs while maintaining provider choice. The benefit is available to group customers in Centre, Columbia, Juanita, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Snyder, and Union counties beginning on July 1. The product, Community Blue Premier Flex, may be expanded in the future to other counties within Highmark's service area.

Community Blue Premier Flex members receive enhanced value benefits, or pay less, if they choose a hospital or doctor that provides care at a more efficient price. Hospitals at this level include, Evangelical Community Hospital, Health South Rehabilitation Center, Lewistown Hospital, Mount Nittany Medical Center, Schuylkill Medical Center, St Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital and Sunbury Community Hospital.

"The number one question from businesses is how can we lower our health care costs; this kind of product helps give them cost savings choices," said Steven Nelson, Highmark senior vice president of product, marketing and strategy. "We estimate that employers can save up to 20 percent on their premium costs depending on the group's current utilization."

Community Blue Premier Flex lowers costs by offering a benefit design that incents members to use lower cost providers without compromising quality.

To help members understand the difference in overall health care costs among providers, Highmark has a number of transparency tools on its member website where members can compare estimated costs among providers for many common procedures.

Strategy details for this new benefit are under review by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

SOURCE Highmark Inc.