BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Steward Health Care System LLC (Steward) and Tufts Health Plan announced the creation of Steward Community Choice, a community hospital network insurance product that dramatically reduces health insurance costs for small businesses. Steward Community Choice, designed to provide the majority of care in physicians offices and community hospitals, will be priced up to 30 percent below current market rates for a comparable benefit design.
“Massachusetts small businesses are the engines of our state’s economy and our best potential source of new jobs. However, small businesses have been crippled by the constantly escalating cost of providing health insurance to their employees,” said Ralph de la Torre, MD, CEO of Steward. “By creating a comprehensive, benefit rich product at a reduced price, we hope to provide relief to businesses that are struggling to find a way to maintain their health insurance and reinvest in their businesses.”
“Our small employer members have seen their health insurance premiums skyrocket over the past five years by an average of 15% per year,” said Jon B. Hurst, President of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. “In order to foster job growth and to keep health care coverage affordable, small businesses must have this type of innovative, high quality health insurance which seeks to offer pricing previously only available to big business and big government purchasers.”
Steward Community Choice offers comprehensive coverage with no coinsurance and $15 - $20 copayments for most physician office visits. The product offers a plan design with no deductible as well as a $1000 and $2000 deductible option for increased monthly premium reduction. Under the plan, clinically appropriate care will be delivered by a hospital or physician within the Steward network. All health care services that cannot be delivered by the Steward network will be delivered by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). Pediatric services will be provided by both Steward and Partners affiliated pediatricians. Tertiary-level pediatric care will be provided by the MGH for Children. Tufts will provide administrative support and claims processing for the new product. Steward Community Choice will be submitted to the MA Division of Insurance for approval in the coming weeks and has an effective date of January 1, 2012.
“We are pleased to be working with MGH and BWH, their participation in the network assures access to world-class tertiary care for buyers of this product,” added de la Torre. “These two hospitals also share our commitment to maintaining the long-term affordability of the product.”
De la Torre said Steward is able to offer this lower-cost insurance coverage because it has successfully built an integrated health system that unites its many hospitals and physician practices through a common information and data foundation, as well as common quality metrics and management systems. He said this integration enables Steward to provide access to high-quality care in the most appropriate setting, such as in the doctor’s office instead of a hospital emergency room. De la Torre added that Steward’s integrated infrastructure across multiple care providers and geographic areas also enables it to assume responsibility for lowering patients’ total medical expense.
“Through this agreement with Steward Health Care, we are introducing a product that offers a real choice for lower cost coverage of high quality healthcare,” said Tufts Health Plan President and CEO James Roosevelt Jr. “This community-based solution to rising costs will provide significant savings to both employers and employees and is consistent with Tufts Health Plan’s history of being an innovative leader in the healthcare market.”
About Steward Health Care
Steward Health Care is the largest fully integrated community care organization and community hospital network in New England. Headquartered in Boston, Steward has more than 14,000 employees serving more than one million patients annually in 85 communities. Hospitals in the system include Saint Anne’s in Fall River, Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, Norwood Hospital, Carney Hospital in Dorchester, Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer, and Merrimack Valley Hospital in Haverhill. Other Steward Health Care entities include Steward Physician Network, Caritas Hospice and Home Care, Laboure College, and Por Cristo. Further information is available at www.steward.org.