Horizon savings lower cost of business plans

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey has launched two health-care plans aimed at small businesses with two to 50 employees, and the state's largest health insurer says the plans offer lower costs thanks to savings from its patient-centered-care program.

The Horizon Patient-Centered Advantage EPO plans, one silver and one bronze, have premiums about 15 percent lower than the insurer's current lowest price plans for small employers, the corporation said. They became available on Tuesday. The plans are specifically related to Horizon's "primary care practices called patient-centered medical homes," said Michael Considine, a sales director. Such practices seek to improve outcomes and patient satisfaction while reducing costs. Horizon said the program for 2012 showed a 23 percent lower rate of hospital admissions, 12 percent fewer emergency room visits and a 9 percent reduction in care costs for diabetic patients.

The savings and the lower-cost plans they make possible are the kind of results the health-care industry is seeking in the widespread adoption of medical-home programs. The number of clinicians in such programs has jumped from fewer than 10,000 in 2010 to nearly 35,000 this year, according to the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Such programs provide care coordinators, preventive care and wellness support, increased patient monitoring and coordination among primary care givers and specialists.

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