In an attempt to reduce healthcare costs, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts introduced a new plan last month that chargesmembers hefty fees for seeking care at more expensive hospitals–and it has become the insurer’s fastest new product launch ever.
The Blue Cross Hospital Choice plan charges members, for example, an extra $1,000 for an inpatient stay or outpatient surgery, and $450 more for an MRI at 15 higher-cost hospitals, including Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals. Companies and workers that sign up get a significant break on their health insurance premiums, increasing by 4.5 percent for the first quarter of the yearinstead of 10 percent, the Boston Globe reports.
Other Massachusetts insurers also report brisk business in plans that offer lower premiums in exchange for limits on use of high-cost care. These plans either charge consumers extra for receiving care from popular but expensive hospitals or doctors, or bar them altogether from seeking treatment at those institutions and practices.
Editor’s Note: We applaud Blue Cross for this “take charge” approach to health care costs. The ultimate step is to cut out the more expensive hospitals completely from their network of providers – we wonder why they dont do that. In fact, why have a network at all? BCBS representative: “Here is our list of participating hospitals. Make sure, though, you dont go to the ones marked in red because their costs are really high.”