New insurance plans promise low premiums, but require patients to be better shoppers

Some health plans like Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina's "My Choice" policies and Minnesota startup Bind Benefits are eliminating annual deductibles and having members negotiate their own claims in an effort to curb medical spending, according to NPR.

Five things to know:

1. These types of health plans often offer cheaper price tags for consumers, and the health plans say they meet guidelines put in place by the ACA. Still, some patients could face big bills, as they don't have much negotiating power with large health systems.

2. For example, BCBS of North Carolina's "My Choice" policies limit reimbursement to 40 percent above Medicare rates. The plan, which launched Jan. 1, does not have a specific network of physicians and hospitals, according to NPR.

3. BCBS of North Carolina said on its website that the plan, which is for individuals and small businesses who are purchasing their own insurance and can't afford ACA plans, "puts you in control to see the doctor you want." The health plan warns consumers that they may have to file their own claims and negotiate hospital charges. It also has telephone advisers that help patients select providers and offer negotiating assistance.

4. Another plan, Bind Benefits, doesn't have annual deductibles for its on-demand plans. Instead, members pay flat copayments for medical services like physician visits and prescription drugs, according to NPR.

5. Bind Benefits is targeted at employers who self-insure their employees. While plans like Bind Benefits and BCBS of North Carolina's "My Choice" — which are both sold outside the ACA exchanges — can have premiums that are 15 to 30 percent lower than industry averages, they require members to be good shoppers, according to the report.

For the full NPR article, click here.

More articles on payers:
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8 recent lawsuits involving payers
State of the payer market: the growing need for infrastructure and operations

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