East Pennsboro Township-based Highmark Blue Shield already is expanding a new tiered benefit plan it launched last month.
Called Community Blue Premier Flex, all area providers that participate in Premier Blue Shield are in-network. This option rewards members with enhanced value benefits or less cost if they choose a less expensive hospital or doctor.
When they receive care from other in-network providers, members are covered at the standard value benefits level or have higher cost sharing.
Hospitals in the region are listed on member websites, along with the level of benefit coverage, according to Highmark.
Highmark rolled it out to nine counties in northcentral Pennsylvania and says it will now be offered in 21 counties to include those in Central and eastern Pennsylvania, beginning Jan. 1. That list includes Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties.
"We estimate that employers can save up to 20 percent on their premium costs depending on the group's current utilization," said Steven Nelson, senior vice president of product, marketing and strategy.
Highmark has other transparency tools on its member website where members can compare estimated costs among providers for many common procedures.