Blue Cross of California, Woodland Hills, launched a new HMO with 10% to 20% lower premiums and a network limited to the physicians and medical groups considered most cost-efficient. Dubbed Power Select HMO, the new plan includes 13,800 doctors -- or roughly half of Blue Cross' 29,000-doctor network -- who were deemed most cost-conscious in hospital use, ordering tests and procedures, and prescribing pharmaceuticals. The insurer also factored in financial stability, administrative efficiency and ability to accept new members. Members will have copayments of $15 to $20 to see a primary-care physician and $30 to see a specialist. Such "narrow networks" are in many respects a return to the original concept of managed care, which successfully curbed healthcare inflation in the early to mid-1990s by managing patients' access to care. In recent years, health plans have been broadening their physician networks in response to members' demands for greater choice. -- by Laura B. Benko
Calif. Blues launches HMO of 'cost-efficient' docs
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