About 850,000 members of Highmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in western Pennsylania will no longer need a referral from their primary-care physician to visit a network specialist, the company announced today.
Highmark is eliminating referrals in what it describes as an effort to simplify its administration.
"Eliminating referrals is part of our consumer-driven approach that provides our members with the opportunity to have a greater hand in their health," said Kenneth Melani, M.D., Highmark's president and chief executive officer, in a prepared statement. "Members will now have more of an active role in specialty care decisions, and it will be more convenient for them to visit a specialist."
Highmark will still require members to choose a primary-care physician, who will be responsible for routine visits, physician exams and vaccinations.