MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE: WLP), and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) announced today a joint effort to offer a nationwide private exchange and defined contribution solution for employers to use in managing their health benefit offerings.
The three independent health insurers have invested equal stakes in Minneapolis-based Bloom Health, giving them majority ownership of the company. This is the first investment in Bloom by HCSC and WellPoint, while BCBSM is increasing its existing stake in the company. Each insurer will serve on Bloom Health’s Board of Directors, with Bloom remaining a separate company.
Bloom Health, established in 2009, provides employers and employees greater flexibility, access and choice of health care services by simplifying how they select and pay for health insurance. Through its platform, Bloom Health helps employers define and better manage their health benefits spending through a defined contribution model. The employer contributes a defined amount per employee toward the cost of employee health care benefits. Employees and individuals are presented with a wide selection of benefit plans through an online “marketplace” to best fit their individual needs.
“Currently, rising health care costs are top of mind for organizations of all sizes,” said Abir Sen, chief executive officer, Bloom Health. “Bloom Health is an important option that assists companies in responsibly managing the rising costs of health care, while at the same time making it simple, engaging and valuable to its employees.”
“HCSC is committed to making health care more accessible and affordable to all consumers. Adding a private exchange to our strong portfolio of health benefit options is essential to providing a broad array of solutions to meet consumer needs in this evolving marketplace,” said Marty Foster, executive vice president and president of plan operations, HCSC.
“We believe private exchanges will be an important solution as the rising costs of health care leave employers searching for more predictability in their health care spend,” said Ken Goulet, executive vice president, and president and CEO of WellPoint’s Commercial Business Unit. “The combined leadership, technological capabilities, brand reputation and market presence make this a natural strategic fit to providing our customer base with the best value and their employees with convenience and choice.”
“By leveraging Bloom Health’s consumer expertise and leading-edge technology, we can offer employers a way to better manage risk all while preserving choice for their employees,” said Ken Dallafior, senior vice president of Group Business and Corporate Marketing, BCBSM. The company was the first to work with Bloom Health earlier this year to pilot a defined contribution health benefit solution to some Michigan employers during 2011, with an expanded rollout in 2012.
The Bloom solution will begin offering limited enrollment for groups renewing in 2012 and will be fully operational for all markets by 2013. For more information, visit http://www.gobloomhealth.com/.
About Bloom Health
Bloom Health is a leader in the defined contribution health benefits marketplace, committed to assisting employers of all sizes move toward an employer-sponsored system that has effective cost predictability for employers and increased choice and personalization for employees. Bloom Health was founded in 2009 and is headquartered in Minneapolis. For more information, visit http://www.gobloomhealth.com/.
About Health Care Service Corporation
Health Care Service Corporation is the country’s largest customer-owned health insurer and fourth largest health insurer overall, with more than 13 million members in its Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahomaand Texas. A Mutual Legal Reserve Company, HCSC is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. HCSC has a rating of AA- (Very Strong) from Standard and Poor’s, A1 (Good) from Moody’s and A+ (Superior) from A.M. Best Company. For more information, please visit http://www.hcsc.com/ or follow us at www.twitter.com/HCSC.
About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit organization, provides and administers health benefits to more than 4.3 million members residing in Michigan, in addition to members of Michigan-headquartered groups who reside outside the state. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit bcbsm.com.
About WellPoint, Inc.
WellPoint works to simplify the connection between Health, Care and Value. We help to improve the health of our members and our communities, and provide greater value to our customers and shareholders. WellPoint is the nation’s largest health benefits company in terms of medical membership, with 34 million members in its affiliated health plans, and a total of more than 69 million individuals served through its subsidiaries. As an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, WellPoint serves members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), and Wisconsin. In a majority of these service areas, WellPoint’s plans do business as Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, or Empire Blue Cross (in the New Yorkservice areas). WellPoint also serves customers throughout the country as UniCare. Additional information about WellPoint is available at http://www.wellpoint.com/.