Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan announces lowest statewide average rate increases in six years for small employers

September 21, 2011

DETROIT — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s efforts to bring more cost-effective products to market, promote wellness, and partner with physicians and hospitals statewide to improve health care quality are paying off with dramatically lower rate increases than Michigan small employers have seen in the last six years.

With an average statewide increase of 4.3 percent for the first quarter of 2012, the Michigan Blues’ small group customers are seeing a moderating trend in premium costs that began earlier this year. In July, the Blues announced the lowest rate increases in six years for fourth quarter 2011 rates.

“This is the second consecutive quarter that Blue Cross has delivered very low rate increases to small employers in Michigan,” said John Dunn, BCBSM vice president for Middle and Small Group Business. “These moderating trends are coming at just the right time to help Michigan employers grow and succeed, while continuing to provide employees with the health coverage they need. Our efforts at the Blues to provide more affordable health plan options, promote better health, and work with doctors and hospitals to improve health care quality are collectively making a significant difference in the rates Michigan employers pay for coverage.”

Dunn said over the past 24 months Blue Cross has made a concerted effort to bring dramatically more affordable and flexible products to the market. A new PPO product begun in January by Blue Cross for small-to-medium sized businesses is one of the company’s most successful product launches. More than 125,000 members are now enrolled in Simply BlueSM, a new PPO health plan that offers affordable, flexible and comprehensive coverage.

“The response to Simply Blue from Michigan small business customers shows that our efforts to introduce new options to meet their needs are getting noticed,” said Dunn.

Simply Blue is flexible and has a range of benefit plan options. Employers can choose from several deductible and copayment options that can be paired with a health reimbursement arrangement or health savings account. Dental, vision and prescription drug plans are available for employers to complete their employee benefit package. The product is priced from 5 percent to 15 percent below other Blue Cross PPO plans.

Several other Blue products have been priced lower as well. Blue Cross introduced an enhanced Healthy Blue OutcomesSM wellness PPO that focuses on health care outcomes and is priced 8 percent below Simply Blue. Blue Care Network’s popular Healthy Blue LivingSM product has a new generation wellness product called Healthy Blue Living RewardsSM that is health outcomes-based and priced 5 percent lower than the original offering. Blue Cross also reduced the price of its health savings account plans by 10 percent and has introduced focused HMO products at lower prices than standard HMO plans.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit organization, provides and administers health benefits to more than 4.3 million members residing in Michigan in addition to members of Michigan-headquartered groups who reside outside the state. The company offers a broad variety of plans including Community BlueSM, Simply BlueSM and Healthy Blue IncentivesSM PPOs; Blue Care Network HMO; BCN Healthy Blue LivingSM; Flexible BlueSM plans compatible with health savings accounts; Medicare Advantage; Part D Prescription Drug plans; and MyBlueSM products in the under-age-65 individual market. BCBSM also offers dental, vision and hearing plans. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit bcbsm.com.