Blue Cross Tackles Expensive Hospital Bills – Leads Charge Against High Cost Hospitals

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.”