Horizon BCBS Gives Back

Horizon BCBS Gives Back Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) today announced plans to distribute $55 million through a one-time Health Care Affordability Dividend. William J. Marino, President and CEO of Horizon BCBSNJ, announced that the company’s Board of Directors has unanimously approved a Health Care Affordability Dividend as “a major commitment” to keeping health care affordable in New Jersey.

Horizon BCBSNJ will distribute $50 million to three segments of its members: $33.8 to small businesses, $7.9 million to senior citizen Medigap members, and another $8.3 million to individual policyholders under age 65. The initiative also includes a $5 million commitment to provide computer hardware and software to a number of New Jersey hospitals and physicians. Horizon BCBSNJ is able to pay the one-time Affordability Dividend because health care costs rose more slowly than was projected in 2003.

Horizon BCBSNJ expects to begin issuing checks to small employer customers and Medigap members in March. The company will provide payments to its individual policyholders after meaningful reform of the individual insurance market is enacted. The dividend will aid those who may face higher costs during the transition to a reformed system.

“The Health Care Affordability Dividend is one more way Horizon BCBSNJ is keeping its promise to help our members obtain quality, affordable health care,” Marino said. “We chose to distribute the dividend to our customers most vulnerable to becoming uninsured due to rising health care costs. Additionally, through our $5 million commitment to providing computer hardware and software to hospitals and doctors in our network, we are continuing to reach out to the medical community to help improve quality, speed the payment of claims, and enhance overall efficiency.”

Government and business group leaders expressed strong support for Horizon BCBSNJ’s $55 million Health Care Affordability Dividend.

"Horizon BCBSNJ's Affordability Dividend, which helps reduce health care costs for small employers who are struggling to provide health benefits for their workers in light of double digit cost increases, is a welcome initiative" said Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey President Richard Goldberg. He added, "We think this program reflects a sincere responsiveness on the part of Horizon BCBSNJ to help reduce the financial burden on small employers and therefore is good for our qualifying members who provide health care benefits to their employees."

"We endorse the Health Care Affordability Dividend and believe it will be meaningful relief to our members that will receive it," said Debra P. DiLorenzo, President, Chamber of Commerce South Jersey. "We congratulate Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey for their leadership in working to make health care more affordable for small businesses in our state."

The Health Care Affordability Dividend is the latest in a series of steps Horizon BCBSNJ has taken over the past year to promote health care affordability and the adoption of technology to improve efficiency and increase patient safety. Other Horizon BCBSNJ initiatives include:

* The reduction of premiums for over 56,000 Medicare Advantage (formerly known as Medicare+Choice) members as well as enhanced benefits for many of those same members as a result of federal funding increases. Horizon BCBSNJ is the only insurer to offer Medicare Advantage in all 21 New Jersey counties.

* The introduction of new, more affordable products to meet the needs of small employers. Revised pricing to reduce the rate of premium increases for companies with fewer than 500 employees.

* Significant investments in new technology to increase overall cost-efficiency and improve service.

* A multi-year, multimedia educational Health Care Dollars and $ense initiative that highlights the causes of rising health care costs and how we can all make choices that help keep health care affordable.

* A new $10 million Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, continuing the company’s 70-year tradition of charitable support for worthy organizations that promote health, education, and the arts in New Jersey.

* An investment of over $1 million in the past year in a series of e-prescribing pilot programs with New Jersey physicians to promote technology that reduces the risk of prescribing errors and increases overall efficiency.

“The Health Care Affordability Dividend is one more way Horizon BCBSNJ is Making Healthcare Work for the people of New Jersey”, added Marino.

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Author: Press Release-HBCBS

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