Could BCBS SmartShopper Save N.C. Businesses Money?

Date: August 01, 2018

Healthcare costs only continue to rise, but Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has a proposal to address it.

BCBSNC, the state’s largest health insurer, will offer customers between $25 and $500 per procedure for more than 100 procedures if they opt to see a cheaper doctor or go with a less costly procedure. The rebate amount will depend on how complex the procedure is and how much cost savings are offered by going with the cheaper option.

This proposal isn’t all that new, The Courier-Tribune reported; insurers have long tried to influence patients with copayment requirements and high deductible plans as a means of sharing financial responsibility for healthcare costs, but offering to share the savings with consumers as a thank-you is more novel.

“There is also the big cost-saving potential where you can shop, find a high-quality provider, and really reduce your out-of-pocket costs,” Blue Cross spokesman Austin Vevurka told The Courier-Tribune.

While healthcare cost transparency is long overdue, healthcare experts also warn consumers to shop carefully.

So far, the “SmartShopper” option is only available to companies that pay for their employees’ healthcare, and BCBSNC is the only insurer administering the plan. But in other states where it’s being used, it has had success so far—to the tune of $56 million in employer savings. However, it doesn’t come without an upfront cost: $2 to $4 per employee per month to give employees access to SmartShopper. BCBS says that employers will get $5 for every $1 they invest, however.

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