EAGAN, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is offering a unique benefit to Minnesotans who seek medical treatment at retail clinics.
Effective immediately, Blue Cross is offering a new benefit option that eliminates co-pays for members who use retail clinics. The option is available on most fully insured small and large group plans, resulting in hundreds of thousands of Blue Cross members who will benefit from lower out of pocket costs. Blue Cross is the first health care plan in Minnesota to offer this benefit.
Blue Cross hopes to encourage its members to use retail clinics for the treatment of simple medical conditions, such as sore throats, ear infections and seasonal allergies, as well as routine vaccinations. Retail clinics such as Minute Clinic and Target Clinic, are typically staffed by physician’s assistants or nurse practitioners and are located in grocery stores, pharmacies and discount stores and even some local businesses.
“Our members have made it clear that they appreciate the option of retail clinics. Blue Cross members in Minnesota made more than 40,000 visits to retail clinics in 2007, a nearly 100 percent increase over the previous year, and we expect this rapid growth to continue,” said Shawn Patterson, vice president of marketing. “We created this new option because it helps hold heath care costs down and is responsive to consumers’ wide acceptance of retail clinics.” Blue Cross members can find out if their plan includes this benefit option by checking their contract or talking to their employer.
Blue Cross found that the average cost of a retail clinic visit for typical services was approximately half the cost of a visit to a traditional medical clinic: $47 at a retail clinic vs. $97 at a traditional clinic. Blue Cross estimates that employers and members saved more than $1.25 million in health care costs in 2007 by using retail clinics.
“By eliminating co-pays for retail clinic visits, Blue Cross is making it easier for members to use cost-effective care,” Patterson said. “We recognize that the way health care has traditionally been delivered needs to change—to be more responsive and effective. We’re working to develop benefit plans that encourage and support innovative care models, such as retail clinics.”
For a list of qualifying retail clinics, visit www.bluecrossmn.com and search for “retail clinics brochure.” Or, members may call the toll-free number for customer service located on the back of their ID cards.
Minnesota is the birthplace of retail clinics, and Blue Cross was an early supporter of the model, offering coverage of retail clinic visits beginning in 2001. The company recognized the value of the retail clinic model’s consumer-friendly, innovative thinking. Retail clinics are a rapidly growing part of the American healthcare system. There are more than 700 retail clinics nationwide, according to Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, with projections that thousands more will open in the next few years.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota’s first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. A nonprofit, taxable organization, Blue Cross is the largest health plan based in Minnesota, covering 2.9 million members in Minnesota and nationally through its health plans or plans administered by its affiliated companies. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago. Go to bluecrossmn.com to learn more about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.