Medica teams up with provider in HMO-style health plan


Medica, the second largest insurer in Minnesota, is teaming up with a local provider to offer a new health insurance plan that might be reminiscent of the HMO model in the 1990s.

Beginning April 1, Medica and Fairview Health Services will provide the plan, called Harmony with Medica and Fairview, which includes premium costs that are 10 percent less than other Medica health plans. Medica spokesperson Greg Bury told MedCity News that the Harmony health plan could save members up to $55 each month compared to other Medica plans.

Members of the Harmony health plan can use a single phone number to get help with claims and benefits questions or speak with a nurse. Medica also will offer virtual visits that let members talk to doctors using computer-based video conferencing, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The caveat, however, is that members can see only Fairvew providers and medical facilities in the Minneapolis area, reported MedCity News. But Medica officials were quick to point out how the new health plan differs from an HMO. "In this arrangement, you are choosing within a large care system," Dannette Coleman, Medica's vice president and general manager of individual and family business, told the Star Tribune. "You have much more freedom than you did in the days of HMOs and gatekeeper products."

HMOs, she added, were about "plans and providers trying to shift costs to one another," whereas the Medica-Fairview partnership focuses "more now on quality and health outcomes."

The Harmony health plan is available as a stand-alone product and as part of the My Plan platform, which essentially is a private insurance exchange allowing consumers to choose from 20 different Medica plans with various deductibles and benefits, the Star Tribune noted.

To learn more:
- read the MedCity News article
- see the Minneapolis Star Tribune article

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