March 12, 2010

OGB Awards HMO Health Plan Contract to Blue Cross


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana will add up to 200 jobs - all within Louisiana - to process claims, provide customer service and otherwise meet the needs of state employees enrolled in the Office of Group Benefits' self-insured HMO health plan.

The Office of Group Benefits (OGB) last week awarded Blue Cross the contract to administer the HMO plan of benefits effective July 1. The HMO plan's benefit structure will remain unchanged. The Louisiana insurer, the only not-for-profit mutually owned health plan in the state, received the highest score for its proposal during a competitive bid process mandated by state law.

"We feel OGB's decision is doubly important," said Blue Cross President and CEO Mike Reitz. "We take it as an endorsement of the Blue Cross value we will bring to the participants of the plan and, at the same time, as a local company, we are pleased that this partnership will lead to job creation within the state. We're based right here in Louisiana and are proud to be bringing these jobs back home." 

OGB offers health coverage for workers at state agencies, local school boards and state colleges and universities, as well as their dependents. The agency's mission, according to OGB Chief Executive Officer Tommy D. Teague, is "to provide the best possible health coverage for the lowest possible premium, while helping plan members get the most value for every health care dollar they spend."

"We share OGB's longtime commitment to the state of Louisiana," Reitz added. "And our mission - to improve the lives of Louisianans by providing health guidance and affordable access to quality care - aligns perfectly with theirs."

The Blue Cross contract provides OGB's HMO plan members with access to an extensive nationwide network of doctors, hospitals and other medical care providers. As a result, Teague said, OGB will fold the current self-insured EPO health plan, which has a nationwide provider network, into the HMO plan.

 "Having access to medical care across the U.S. is key for retirees who live in other states and also for employees and retirees with children attending out-of-state colleges and universities," Teague said. "The national network Blue Cross will provide for our HMO plan eliminates the need for a separate EPO plan." He said current EPO plan members who do not select another OGB health plan during Annual Enrollment in April will be automatically enrolled in the HMO plan.