BCBS of Montana, Benefis team up for narrow network plan

Great Falls, Mont.-based Benefis Health System and Helena-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana will partner to lower healthcare costs for large group health insurance plans and policyholders, the Great Falls Tribune reported.

The narrow network plan, called Blue Options, will provide cost savings for members of large employer-sponsored health plans who receive care from Benefis. Blue Options creates a "tiered" network, with Tier 1 facilities providing the lowest costs to Blue Option policyholders. Benefis is the only Tier 1 hospital in Cascade County. Members can receive care outside of Benefis from BCBSMT's PPO for higher costs.

"This new partnership will benefit all large groups who choose to participate in this network," Benefis CEO John Goodnow told the Great Falls Tribune. "Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana is our best customer and receives our largest discount of any commercial insurer and the discount for those who select Blue Options will be even larger. This new partnership will benefit both companies who choose this option and their employees in reducing their healthcare costs."

Mr. Goodnow said the narrow network plan is Montana's first. Benefis is currently recruiting providers to cover all healthcare services.

Blue Options plans will be available Jan. 1 for self-funded plans. A similar plan for fully insured groups was filed and is intended to launch next year, according to the report. Blue Options will soon be offered in Missoula and Billings as well. 

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