Wellness program helps Blue Cross secure state contract

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont won a contract to administer health coverage for more than 23,000 state employees and their dependents by including a strong wellness model and lower costs.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said Wednesday Blue Cross would replace Cigna as the insurer for the state's employees as of Jan. 1. He said the switch, along with contracts for dental and pharmacy benefits, would save $10 million annually, reported VT Digger.

The state chose Blue Cross primarily due to its wellness plan, which provides education and assistance for behaviors like smoking cessation.

"We know that the best way to contain healthcare costs is to help people change risk factors like smoking and obesity that contribute to bad health outcomes," Shumlin said in a statement. "I am confident Blue Cross's new Accountable Blue program will help us save costs, and more importantly, improve the health of our state employees and their families."

Human Resources Commissioner Kate Duffy said all the bids were competitive, but "Blue Cross had the most attractive overall cost, wellness plan and commitment" to the state's own Blueprint for Health reform effort.

Plus, the Blue Cross proposal had lower provider rates than Cigna. That means Vermont, which paid $119 million in medical claims last year, could have spent $5 million less if the Blue Cross contract was in place, the Vermont Press Bureau reported.

To learn more:
- here's the Gov. Shumlin statement
- read the VT Digger article
- see the Vermont Press Bureau article

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