Hackensack Meridian, RWJBarnabas, Horizon launch insurance company

New Jersey residents will be able to access a new health insurance product next year offered through a joint venture between Hackensack Meridian Health, RWJBarnabas Health and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

"You see some partnerships between healthcare providers and insurers throughout the country, but these are three organizations that are based in the same state, focused on the same population, and sharing common values to improve quality care and make healthcare more affordable," Robert Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian, told Becker's.

Five things to know: 

1. The company, called Braven Health, will offer Medicare Advantage plans to eight counties in New Jersey beginning in January 2021. 

2. Braven is the state's first Medicare plan to be owned and operated by Horizon and Hackensack (N.J.) Meridian. Horizon and Hackensack Meridian said they're working with RWJBarnabas in West Orange, N.J., to join Braven. The addition is subject to approval by the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance. In an interview with Becker's, Gary St. Hilaire, president and CEO of Horizon, said the ownership breakdown of the joint venture is:

  • Horizon: 50 percent 
  • Hackensack Meridian: 40 percent 
  • RWJBarnabas: 10 percent, pending state approval 

3. Braven health plans will use Horizon's existing Medicare Advantage network of providers and hospitals. The organizations expect enrollment to total 15,000 members in its first year.

4. Physicians across various specialties will be part of the company's practitioner council, which will provide recommendations to Braven's CEO and board of directors on improvements that are needed from a practitioner's perspective. Hackensack Meridian executives further outlined the role of the practitioner council, which will have 10 to 12 members, in two quotes to Becker's:

  • Patrick Young, president of population health for Hackensack Meridian: "The idea behind the council is to create an opportunity for physicians in the marketplace to have a say at the table in relation to the operational activities associated with Braven, as well as working on the clinical activities. It's a direct line of communication so that they can identify and facilitate and coordinate with the partners to make sure we're optimizing the experience of patients … and physicians."
  • James Clarke, MD, vice president of primary care and care transitions at Hackensack Meridian: "It's very exciting, as a physician, to work with the two hospital systems and insurance company to have a say in what's going on, and feeding [them] what we're seeing on the front line of patient care in our communities in New Jersey. The practitioners are excited to have people they can tell what they should be judged on and what brings value to their patients."

5. Luisa Charbonneau will serve as Braven's first CEO. She has more than two decades of experience in healthcare leadership. Most recently, she served as the senior vice president of senior lifestyle company Peerfit, and prior to that, led the Medicare business at Florida Blue.

Editor's note: This article was updated Sept. 14 at 2:48 p.m. CT to include more information from an interview with executives from the health systems and insurer. 

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