Emulate Blue Cross to realize exchange success


Since Blue Cross Blue Shield plans successfully enrolled hundreds of thousands of new consumers through the health insurance exchanges, other insurers should consider emulating what Blue Cross did during the first enrollment period.

Blue Cross had the most notable success in Illinois, where Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois signed up about 200,000 of the 217,000 total enrollees--a whopping 92 percent of the market. Insurers competing with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, the state's largest insurer, must now decide whether they will reduce prices or reconsider their marketing and enrollment efforts, reported Crain's Chicago Healthcare Daily.

"Our goal was to expand access to healthcare in the states in which we operate BCBS health plans," Lauren Perlstein, senior manager of public and media relations at Blue Cross parent Health Care Service Corporation, said in a statement. "We did this by competitive pricing, expansive product selection, an array of provider network options and our commitment to help consumers manage their healthcare choices and decisions."

One key to Blue Cross's successful exchange enrollment was a focus on education. Blue Cross attended more than 200 community events and hosted more than 300 seminars, both of which helped the insurer inform and enroll consumers. For example, HCSC's "Be Covered" campaign, of which the Illinois Blues plan took part, included aligning with community organizations to reach out to the uninsured population, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. Plus, Blue Cross launched a website dedicated to healthcare reform.

Competitive prices and market reputation also contributed to its large enrollment numbers. Although smaller insurers can't replicate Blue Cross's reputation yet, they might be able to adjust their premiums and other cost-sharing features. The average total costs for Blue Cross enrollees was either the cheapest or almost the least expensive in every category of coverage offered, Crain's reported.

Despite the obvious dominance of Blue Cross in the past enrollment period, some industry analysts think it's too early to tell who will be the overall winner, the article noted.

To learn more:
- read the Crain's Chicago Healthcare Daily article

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