HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care industry intelligence, finds that the Care Choices HMO appears poised to take some educators' health business away from the Michigan Education Special Services Association (MESSA). According to the latest issue of Michigan Health Plan Analysis from HealthLeaders-InterStudy, MESSA is a voluntary employees' beneficiary association that has been the health plan of choice for 535 Michigan school districts and about 57 percent of Michigan Education Association members. Care Choices, offering some lower prices, recently signed up five groups that had previously held MESSA insurance.
"You can see how MESSA is vulnerable to competitors," said Rick Byrne, HealthLeaders-InterStudy analyst. "They're looking for 10 to 12 percent premium increases, while Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the company its network is built upon, is publicizing its smallest premium increases in a decade."
Health care costs have to compete in the budget with classroom spending and salary increases. Michigan is looking for some significant performance improvements under No Child Left Behind, which will be tougher to make when dollars are spent on healthcare rather than in the classroom.
MESSA has been around for four decades and has strong loyalty among educators. This loyalty can help it maintain market share in the short term, but will be tested if the price gap between it and its competitors continues.
Other health plan news in Michigan: * Commercial HMOs did well in Michigan over the past year, with most showing a healthy profit. * The four major hospital networks serving Wayne County and Detroit have joined forces to offer an innovative three-share health plan, which shares funding equally between the insured, the insured's employer, and a community nonprofit. The health plan is aimed at small employers who are otherwise unable to offer health insurance. * UniCare is targeting Michigan for its new limited-benefit plan, BasicChoice, aimed at low-wage restaurant, hotel, and service-industry workers. About HealthLeaders-InterStudy
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