Three-year endeavor, Affordability Cures, aims to address root causes of high-cost health care system
Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), the nation’s largest customer-owned health insurer, today announced it has committed $1.5 billion over three years to accelerate its efforts to reduce health care costs for its members. The new endeavor, Affordability CuresSM, builds on the company’s ongoing efforts to control medical and administrative costs for the long-term and was bolstered by benefits due to the more recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
HCSC today reported operating income has returned to levels required to sustain operations while enabling the company to invest in the future, following significant losses. For 2017, HCSC earned $1.3 billion and grew membership by 315,000 members. In January 2018, HCSC welcomed an additional 500,000 members across its five states. Through the Blue Cross and Blue Shield® plans it operates in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, the company is entrusted to purchase and administer approximately $70 billion in health care goods and services on behalf of more than 15 million members each year.
“Over the last several years, we reduced our expenses, managed medical costs across the health care system and remained true to our commitment to stand with customers – even in tough market conditions when others wavered,” said Paula Steiner, president and chief executive officer of HCSC.
The company’s efforts to provide affordable health care coverage include value-based arrangements with health care providers, reductions in unwarranted variations in care and ongoing technology investments to streamline operations. HCSC also announced it has filed average rates for small group Affordable Care Act-aligned plans ranging from slight reductions to modest increases, effective July 1, 2018. Final small group rates will be finalized in spring and may vary by customer. While individual rate filings have not been completed, preliminary analysis suggests relief for individual rates similar to what is filed for small group products, provided sensible market stabilization measures remain in place.
“Across the board, there’s still work to do,” said Steiner. “Moderating premium increases year-to-year is relative. Long-term, sustained rate reduction is only achievable when all stakeholders work together to create a stable market for affordable coverage that works for our customers. Many people struggle to afford health insurance. We owe it to them to find solutions with staying power that aim for what has eluded us as a nation—and that’s what Affordability Cures is all about.”
Through Affordability Cures, HCSC will focus resources in five target areas where innovation and investments can affect meaningful change for its members:
- Collaborative Care: Share timely, accurate insights and deepen relationships with care providers and patients to improve outcomes;
- Productive Employees: Partner with employers on innovative programs and services that will help employees be at their best;
- Household Financial Security: Promote programs that support controlled, predictable health care expenses and, therefore, provide peace of mind;
- Healthy Communities: Identify and support initiatives beyond traditional care settings to address and tackle determinants of health; and
- Digitally-driven, Data-rich Actions: Deliver practical insights that drive prudent decision-making by our members, their medical providers and other health care professionals.
HCSC’s health plans will play a vital role in deploying Affordability Cures. The plans will work with key stakeholders to identify challenges and focus on opportunities that will improve affordability over the long-term.
Steiner said, “As a customer-owned company, our focus has always been on our members, and Affordability Cures is all about our investment in them.”
About Health Care Service Corporation
Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) is the largest customer-owned health insurance company in the United States. HCSC offers a wide variety of health and life insurance products and related services through its operating divisions and subsidiaries, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas and Dearborn National. The company employs more than 23,000 people and serves more than 16 million members. For more information, please visit hcsc.com, visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.