PITTSBURGH and SEATTLE, Nov. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Highmark Inc., an independent Blue Cross Blue Shield plan based in Pittsburgh, announced today that it has partnered with Array Health, a leader in health insurance exchange technology and services, to fundamentally change small business health insurance by piloting a private exchange. Highmark's private exchange, which is the first in Pennsylvania, gives small employers the ability to offer a defined contribution to employees, who then use the contribution to purchase health, dental or vision insurance from a variety of Highmark plan designs.
"Because of cost, many small employers find it difficult to provide employee health insurance," said Steven Nelson, senior vice president of health services strategy, product and marketing at Highmark. "We believe that if they can offer their employees a fixed dollar amount toward the purchase of insurance, then we can help insure more individuals and the employer can manage long-term health care costs."
Only 49 percent of small business employers in Pennsylvania currently offer health insurance according to America's Health Insurance Plans.
"We're bringing a retail experience to the wholesale environment," said Nelson. "Highmark's exchange will give small business employees a chance to truly choose a health plan option that's right for them."
With a defined contribution approach, an employer sets a monthly fixed dollar allowance for employees. They use this money to go to an online insurance store to select from a menu of seven Highmark health plan options as well as two dental and vision insurance plan options.
"Our platform seamlessly packages health and ancillary products to look and feel just like a traditional group plan, which is what most employers, employees and brokers are familiar with, but also gives a menu of options," said Jonathan Rickert, Array Health CEO. "We have extensive experience in exchanges, and we look forward to bringing our expertise to the Pennsylvania marketplace with Highmark."
Array Health's Private Exchange platform includes a Product Marketplace with decision support tools that make it easy for employees to compare, choose and enroll in plans that fit their specific health needs. It also includes an Administration Dashboard where employers and brokers can access all the information they need to administer the company's health benefits.
Highmark's exchange will be piloted to small employer groups, or those covering 10 to 99 individuals, starting on Jan. 1, 2012.
For more information, visit https://www.highmark.com/hmk2/about/newsroom/2011/pr111511.shtml
SOURCE Highmark Inc.