Rather than battle over the spoils of Utah's small-group insurance market, the state's two largest healthcare organizations have joined forces to try to lock that market up for themselves.
The Salt Lake City-based rivals-Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Utah and Intermountain Health Care-recently formed BlueCare, a joint venture HMO marketed to individuals and businesses with up to 50 employees. First-year enrollment is projected at 7,500, with average group size of three members.
With 587,000 enrollees, the Blues plan offers traditional indemnity coverage, a PPO and an HMO called ValueCare. It has service contracts with Intermountain for its indemnity coverage and PPO.
In addition to its 23 hospitals, 45 outpatient clinics and 2,200 physicians, Intermountain operates IHC Care, a 380,000-enrollee HMO.
"It's unusual, but it's an interesting combination; and it makes sense," said Jane Jensen, Denver-based principal with benefits consultant William M. Mercer, who noted the plans have been fierce competitors. "This might broaden the appeal of both plans."