Mountain Enhanced Network to offer lower health care plans in Moffat, Rio Blanco counties through partnership with Memorial Regional Health
CRAIG — Employers in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties will soon have access to lower-cost, community-based health plans, which will become available to large and small group employers in both counties. The expansion was facilitated through a collaboration with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Sheild and Memorial Regional Health and its network of clinics and physicians and will take effect Jan. 1.
According to information provided by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Mountain Enhanced Network, or MEN, was specifically designed to serve the state’s mountain communities in Moffat, Rio Blanco, Archuleta, Eagle, La Plata, Mesa, Montezuma, and Summit counties.
Anthem says the plans are affordable due to partnerships with local physicians and hospitals — including MRH — that are committed to keeping health care costs down. The plans offer favorable rates through negotiations with local providers to protect residents and businesses from the higher costs others might charge for the same services.
The MEN plans also cover emergency treatment for members traveling the U.S. or the world, even if providers are not within the network. Members can also extend coverage to dependents attending school in other areas — both in Colorado and out-of-state — through guest memberships with affiliated HMOs.
“The Mountain Enhanced Network HMN will improve accessibility of affordable health care in the region,” Anthem officials said in a news release. “Additionally, members will get the most out of their HMO benefits and savings on out-of-pocket costs when they received covered medical services from MRH and affiliated clinics and physicians.”
On Wednesday, Oct. 17, Memorial Regional Health and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield met with business owners and community members at the Hampton Inn to discuss the expansion. MRH CEO Andy Daniels told attendees the expansion began with MRH’s quest to find a better product offering for the county.
“So I want to start with the why,” Daniels said. “I want to thank my board. They said to me, ‘Is there a way to find a better product or offering for Moffat County?’ I went to Randy Rush, of HUB International, and he asked me if I’d met the Anthem folks. I said I hadn’t, so he introduced us.”
This conversation led to the creation of a plan in collaboration with MRH’s network of clinics and physicians.
Rush said the plan had to be approved by the state, adding that the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies had extended that approval about two weeks ago.
He said he quoted the product for one of Moffat County’s large employers “about 10 days ago,” comparing it to the employer’s other options, and “there was a significant difference.”
“Part of the process — how the soup is made — part of the conversation is for the provider to take a couple dozen high-frequency services and having the hospital price them differently,” Rush said. “The way we were able to do this is that, for specific services, MRH has agreed to discounted services that drive the lower rate.”
Craig German, regional sales manager for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, said the expansion represents a brand new network for Rio Blanco and Moffat counties and offers benefits to both small and large businesses, as well as individuals.
“We have small group plans for businesses with 100 or less, and large group plans for larger businesses,” he said. “Non-employer sponsored individuals will also have access. We are an HMO, open-access network — a community-based network built around local doctors and hospitals.”
Ben Miller, regional vice-president of sales for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, said the partnership will be beneficial, both for county residents and Anthem.
“MRH has always been part of our broader product set,” Miller said. “But we want to keep the care local, and that means high-quality and convenience. So, the partnership with Andy and the team is a cool thing. It allows us to partner with a local provider and company with the same beliefs.”
“This was, by far, the best extension of partnership,” he added. “I like the trifecta — helping local businesses, helping Andy, and offering a product with multiple funding types. This is exciting for us. We’ve been in Colorado for 80 years. We are the only one (health insurance company) in all 64 counties of the state.”
Daniels agreed the arrangement is a win-win.
“We know that we have to be competitive,” he said. “We know that the cost to our local businesses is very high, and we know if we could make it affordable for our local businesses, the hope is that our volume will pick up. You will see some reduction in your insurance premium, and Anthem will gain some market share.”
Moffat County is officially a player in a major natural gas export plan spanning several western states all the way to the Pacific Ocean.