BLUE SHIELD: New HMO Spurs Strong Membership Increase
Blue Shield of California's HMO membership grew by nearly 30% in 1997, making it the fastest-growing commercial HMO in the state, according to data filed with the Department of Corporations and released by company officials Wednesday. Blue Shield credits its Access+ HMO with fueling the growth. The HMO, launched June 17, 1996, gives members the ability to directly access specialists without a referral from their primary care physician. Blue Shield Chair and CEO Wayne Moon said, "Our success with Access+ HMO demonstrates that Blue Shield is listening to consumers. ... Consumers were anxious about access to specialists and [said] that they wanted greater flexibility." Enrollment in Access+ grew 29.2%, from 386,734 to 499,526 in 1997. Blue Shield enrollment for all plans rose 27.2%, from 1.51 million to 1.92 million. In comparison, enrollment for the largest California HMOs excluding Blue Shield -- Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross, PacifiCare and Foundation Health System -- increased an average 7.2% in 1997, according to Blue Shield (Blue Shield of California release, 6/17).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.