Blue Cross of California Decides Not to Implement Proposed Tiered Hospital Plan
Blue Cross of California has "backed off" a proposal to implement a tiered hospital plan, the Los Angeles Times reports (Lee, Los Angeles Times, 5/23). Under tiered hospital plans, health insurers require members who receive care at more expensive hospitals to pay hundreds of dollars in additional copayments. According to health insurers, employers who decide to participate in tiered hospital plans can save as much as 20% on the cost of health insurance premiums (California Healthline, 5/6). Blue Cross decided not to implement a tiered hospital plan, which it announced in January, after "encountering vigorous opposition" from hospitals. Hospital officials said that "tiered pricing unfairly labels hospitals as cheap or too expensive" and does not consider quality or specialty services offered. In addition, patient advocacy groups said that tiered hospital plans will prompt more patients to visit overcrowded hospitals for treatment and reduce access to care for those who cannot afford preferred hospitals.
Rather than implementing a tiered hospital plan, Blue Cross announced a proposal yesterday to place one of four icons next to hospital listings in the health insurer's provider directories to rank the facilities from "least expensive to most expensive." Blue Cross said that the icons would provide members with information, adding that it will not charge additional copayments for members who visit more expensive hospitals. However, Blue Cross officials did not "rule out the possibility" of a tiered hospital plan in the future (Los Angeles Times, 5/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.