BCBSMA 2012 Annual Report

Healthy Savings for Employers

One of our top priorities during 2012 was to ensure that we could provide the best possible combination of affordable products, services, programs, and consultation to every employer customer and potential customer regardless of size, industry type, or market segment.

Whether a customer is large, national, and self-insured or a startup with a handful of workers; a thriving high-tech superstar or a nonprofit that marks its success one client at a time; a city or town; a college or university; a huge grocery chain or a corner bodega—we are more prepared than ever to be an active partner in helping improve the health of their employees and their bottom line.

We collaborate with employers and their brokers and consultants to gain a comprehensive understanding of their employees' heath care needs, their use of the health care system, and the factors that are driving the employers' costs. For companies with large memberships, we are able to provide in-depth Health Informatics reports that can identify the best opportunities for cost containment. For example, as a result of its Health Informatics data, a company may decide to focus on educating employees on the appropriate use of emergency services or high-cost imaging—or on promoting diet, exercise, or smoking cessation.

As the stories in this section of the annual report demonstrate, the need for information, innovative solutions, and trusted advice is not limited to large employers, especially in a time of rapid, unprecedented change in health care.

Taking on the Cost Drivers

Lauri Tenney
Lauri Tenney at EMC Corporation.
EMC Corporation, Ocean Spray, and The TJX Companies are worldwide leaders in their respective industries–information technology services, fruit and juice products, and value-priced retail sales–with thousands of employees working in Massachusetts and around the country. Like many other large, self-insured businesses, they look to us for benefit plans, programs, and services that will help them to manage their health care costs and improve the health and wellbeing of their employees. They also rely on us for information and expert advice that can guide their decisions about what is best for their particular employee populations.

One of the most valuable tools available to large companies takes advantage of the clinical and analytic expertise of our Health Informatics team. Each year, the team develops detailed
reports on the factors driving the health care costs of our large customers, including the incidence of various chronic conditions and the prevalence of lifestyle risks such as smoking, unhealthy weight, and lack of exercise. The analysis looks at trends over several years, compares each employer's data with our overall customer base and with "best-in-class" performance, and recommends specific programs and benefit changes that can result in short- and long-term savings and a healthier workforce.

Ocean Spray's Benefits Manager, Susan French, says the yearly Health Informatics review has been extremely useful in helping the company understand its costs. "We used the data to design an employee education campaign on how to be a more informed health care consumer," she says. "Blue Cross also

Taking on the Cost Drivers

backed up their commitment to employee health by offering us a wellness budget we can use to cover the cost of employee health screenings and programs."

EMC combines its own technology tools with data from our company to give every employee access to a personal health record, including cost information, according to Lauri Tenney, EMC's benefits director. "We want to foster a culture of health at EMC, so we provide tools and programs to help employees live a healthier lifestyle. Blue Cross brings in subject matter experts to hold seminars on health and wellness topics, and collaborates with our other vendors to help employees learn to take better control over their health and the cost of certain medical services."

"Our employees feel like they get concierge treatment."

Wellness is also becoming an important part of the culture at TJX, according to Corporate Benefits Director, Lauren Mullin. With 2,500 retail stores and distribution centers nationwide, the rollout of new employee programs is complicated, so wellness initiatives like Walking Works are often piloted at the Massachusetts home office. In 2012, TJX began offering its Massachusetts employees a high-deductible health plan with a Health Savings Account as another way to get them engaged in their health care decisionmaking. "We realized that simply tweaking benefit design wouldn't get us the results we want," says Mullin. "Blue Cross was flexible,
responsive, and detail oriented, and the implementation of their high-deductible health plan was fantastic."

While their products and services differ, EMC, Ocean Spray, and TJX share what many successful companies have in common–a passionate commitment to customer service. Their benefits specialists say that they see that same passion at our company. "Blue Cross is a very helpful partner with great coverage and excellent member service," says EMC's Lauri Tenney. "Our employees feel like they get concierge treatment."

Tailoring Health Coverage

Photo courtesy of Christian Kozowyk
When you ask nonprofit employers what they are looking for in employee health benefits, the answers are pretty much the same as for their for-profit counterparts–quality, affordable premiums, security, and service. In fact, with all the demands of running a successful nonprofit, the peace of mind that comes with finding an insurance partner that can deliver on "all of the above" takes on added importance.

In 2012, the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) weighed those factors and more when they chose our company for their employees' health coverage, according to BHCHP's Human Resources Director, Jessie Saacke. "We provide high-quality health care to a very vulnerable population, and we extend that commitment to offering excellent health insurance to our 280 staff members," she says.
"We also value the fact that Blue Cross has a long history of service in our state, and a great reputation as a very philanthropic and community-oriented company."

"They helped us tailor a plan that meets our employees' needs and also makes coverage affordable."

Over the past two decades, BHCHP's staff members have helped improve the health and wellbeing of tens of thousands of homeless individuals and families in the greater Boston area, providing care on the street, in shelters and hospitals, and at its own ambulatory and respite care center. They have also had a huge positive influence on societal attitudes toward people who are homeless and on the way health care is provided to vulnerable people with complex medical and psychosocial problems.

Tailoring Health Coverage

With many benefit plans to choose from, BHCHP and their broker, Gallagher Benefit Services, worked with our company's Sales team to find the right fit. "Blue Cross looked at how our staff uses health services and at all the benefit options available," Saacke says. "They helped us tailor a plan that meets our employees' needs and also makes coverage affordable. Blue Cross also did a great job supporting us during enrollment, working with us on-site and making sure it all went very smoothly."

To the north of Boston, broker Bob Was, who is a principal at The Was Insurance Agency LLC, along with his wife, Barbara, finds that his clients, many of which are small businesses, are also looking for tailored solutions that stress quality, affordability, and service.
"The companies we work with often have employees who live in New Hampshire and southern Maine, as well as Massachusetts," he says. "Blue Cross is very popular because they have a strong network of doctors and hospitals in all three of those states."

His clients have been enthusiastic about our tiered-network products, because their workers can choose high-quality, lower-cost providers in order to reduce their out-of-pocket costs. "What's especially attractive about these tiered Blue Cross products is that employers and employees both can save money without sacrificing benefits or their choice of providers. The bottom line with Blue Cross," Was says, "is that I see a very high comfort level on the part of both employers and employees. The premium has to be
competitive, of course, but my clients definitely benefit from great customer service and a very high level of member loyalty."