By Cyril Tuohy
Consumers who work with specially trained health care advisors to help them navigate the health care system may be better off. According to data analyzed by Health Care Service Corp. (HCSC), those who worked with health care advisors made more informed decisions that helped them spend less money.
HCSC, which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, developed the Benefits Value Advisor program to help its customers achieve cost savings in the health care system and improve overall quality of care.
"Through this pilot program, we found that members who utilized the company's Benefits Value Advisor achieved significant cost savings -- and higher quality of care - through more informed decision making," Thomas Meier, vice president of product development, said in a news release.
Benefits advisors walk consumers through their many health care options armed with data, cost estimators and other tools to provide expert information that allows members to maximize health care benefits. For this report, HCSC analyzed the use of benefits advisors for approximately 2,000 members from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and Texas from April 9 through Dec. 31, 2012
More than 90 percent of members who contacted a benefits advisor found they were eligible for savings through other health care options by pursuing care with an alternative provider, the analysis discovered.
Members who opted for an alternative provider given this information saw an average savings of about $2,000 per claim. Additionally, more than 50 percent of those members who were eligible for cost savings through the pilot program inquired about MRIs, colonoscopies and childbirth, the analysis also found.
Research cited in the 2011 Healthcare Transparency Index indicates that consumers may pay as much as 683 percent more for the same medical procedures, from MRIs to CT scans and other medical procedures, in the same town, depending on the facility they choose, HCSC said.
HCSC is a customer-owned health insurer, with over 13 million members in its Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. HCSC is a mutual legal reserve company and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer living in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. He has also written about food, restaurants and travel. He can be reached at [email protected].
© Entire contents copyright 2013 by InsuranceNewsNet.com, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reprinted without the expressed written consent from InsuranceNewsNet.com.