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Annuity Board to offer PPO networks of Blue Cross Blue Shield nationally

DALLAS (BP)–Participants in the Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) medical plans of the Annuity Board will have access to Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO networks across the country according to an agreement reached between the Southern Baptist entity and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Effective Jan. 1, Annuity Board medical plan participants in many states will have a choice of networks.

Doug Day, Annuity Board executive officer of benefit services, reported, “With the addition of the Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO networks, more than 99 percent of our medical plan participants and prospects will have access to PPO doctors and healthcare facilities.” He added that in areas where two networks are available, Annuity Board participants will be able to choose the one that offers them the best provider access.

Annuity Board medical plan participants get the most benefits from their plans by using PPO network providers because healthcare providers who participate in the networks agree to provide services to participants at a significant discount from their regular charges. Additionally, the medical plans pay a higher coinsurance percentage for care received from physicians, hospitals and other healthcare providers in the PPO network.

“As we’ve redesigned our medical plans for 2004, a major focus has been to encourage the use of in-network providers,” Day said. “One way we’ve done this is to design our PPO plans to pay a larger percentage of the cost of medical care received from doctors and facilities in the PPO network than they pay for out-of-network care.

“Typically, individuals use network providers to take advantage of the higher coinsurance level,” Day continued. “But when they get their explanation of benefits from the claims administrator and see how big a discount they’re receiving off the provider’s regular rates, they begin to realize how significant their savings can be. Often these discounts are 30 to 40 percent or more.

“At a time when healthcare costs are increasing so much, taking advantage of the cost savings through PPO doctors and hospitals just makes good sense,” Day said. “Individuals can still use providers outside the network but if they make that decision, they’re choosing to pay the higher cost for that privilege.”

In addition to the new Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO network, the networks will still be available through The Principal Financial Group (The Principal). Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield will administer claims for individuals who choose the Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO network. The Principal will continue to administer claims for participants in the networks it offers.

Current Annuity Board medical plan participants will receive information about the new medical plans and networks in mid-September. Any Southern Baptist employees interested in receiving more information about the Annuity Board’s life and health plans can call 1-800-262-0511 to speak to a customer relations specialist.

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