Responding to employers' desire to rein in retiree medical costs, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association has formed a managed-care Medicare network that will eventually span the country.
The network of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans would allow a retiree on Medicare to obtain healthcare services from any Blues Medicare HMO anywhere in the United States.
Because of their presence in all states, the Blues have a head start in creating a sprawling network for seniors and capitalizing on the growing managed Medicare market. Employers with retirees in several locations could find the newly formed Blues network attractive because of consolidated services.
In total number of Medicare risk enrollment, Blues plans nationwide rank fifth, with 117,917 enrollees. Cypress, Calif.-based PacifiCare Health Systems has the most Medicare risk enrollees at 366,325, according to HCFA.
But currently the Blues has the largest Medicare network: 14 Medicare HMOs in 10 states. By contrast, PacifiCare has Medicare HMOs in only four states.
"Many more" Blues plans are applying for HCFA certification, according to Judith Wilson, Blues vice president of national managed-care services.
The Blues' Medicare HMOs currently cover only a Medicare recipient, "but most of our HMOs are developing a product that will cover their dependents," Wilson told MODERN HEALTHCARE.