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Blue Cross NC, Wake Forest Baptist form another health-care partnership
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Blue Cross NC, Wake Forest Baptist form another health-care partnership

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of N.C. and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have formed their second health insurance network to serve the Triad.

Blue Cross said it will offer, starting in January, what it is marketing as Blue High Performance network.

The network provides members with access to a comprehensive set of doctors, hospitals and specialists, while lowering costs for employers.

The insurer estimates the network will provide cost savings of up to 13% compared with its preferred provider organization network.

“Blue HPN is another example of how Blue Cross NC is committed to making health care better, simpler and more affordable with great providers like Wake Forest Baptist Health,” said Steve Crist, vice president of major accounts at Blue Cross NC.

Wake Forest Baptist already is part of Blue Cross NC’s value-based care model, Blue Premier, which holds health systems and Blue Cross NC jointly accountable for better health outcomes and lower costs over the term of the arrangement.

Dr. Kevin High, president of Wake Forest Baptist Health System, said that “we continue to work with our payer partners to reduce the overall cost of care to our patients.

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Blue Cross also will offer the high-performance network in the Charlotte area beginning in January.

In August 2019, Blue Cross NC and Wake Forest Baptist created a special Affordable Care Act product — Blue Local — in the Triad that was projected to reduce 2020 individual rates by up to 40%.

Blue Cross NC insures more than 70,000 individual ACA customers in Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Randolph, Stokes, Wilkes and Yadkin counties.

The insurer cautioned premium rates vary based on location, age, subsidy amount and plan chosen.

Blue Cross NC continued to sell its Blue Advantage and Blue Value products in the eight counties this year.

In January 2019, the insurer launched Blue Premier in collaboration with five major health systems — Wake Forest Baptist, Cone Health, Duke University Health, UNC Hospitals and WakeMed. Novant Health Inc. and Atrium Health joined in November 2019.

With the existing “fee-for-service” system, patients or insurers pay providers for each office visit or treatment, creating additional revenue for repeat visits or hospital re-admissions.

The newer approach — called “value-based” contracting — typically offers providers incentives for better patient outcomes through emphasizing preventive and maintenance care, which tends to be less costly than treating patients after they have become sick.

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