EAGAN, Minn. — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is now providing its two-million members access to a complementary care network. The program, which began serving members on May 1, includes discounts for acupuncture, massage therapy and online discounts tohealthand wellness products. In addition, members will have access to a network of fitness centers at the lowest possible rate available for the type of membership available when they join for the first time.

Under this program, administered by American SpecialtyHealthNetworks (ASHN), members make appointments with complementaryhealthcare providers across the nation and pay them directly for their services. These providers are credentialed by ASHN and have agreed to accept a reduction in fees for Blue Cross members. ASHN is a national managed care organization focused on delivering complementaryhealthcare.

“We know that our members are already using complementary therapies,” said Kathy Kelly, Blue Cross director of new product development. “More than ever, people are more informed about theirhealthcare options and we wanted to meet the need for these types of services and products at a lower cost.”

Blue Cross members now have access to Healthyroads, an educational resource on complementary and alternative medicine. It provides access tohealthand wellness products at competitive prices. Healthyroads can be accessed through the Blue Cross website at bluecrossmn.com.

The program is a value-added service, not a benefit plan. Fees are not covered by Blue Cross and it will not affect insurance coverage premiums or other aspects of members’healthplans.

In an interview with The EDGE, Kelly said this new effort by Blue Cross is not intended to be a stepping stone toward eventualhealthinsurance coverage of complementary care, though in time it may prove to be so.
“I think in the future, that certainly could be a possibility,” she said. “I’m not saying it’s coming around the corner. I think there are one or two Blue plans nationally that recently have written in complementary care as an option, but no insurance companies have really gotten to a point of offering complementary care as an insurance benefit for everyone.

“We don’t see that the market demand is ready for complementary care to be written in the policies at this time, frankly.”

Kelly acknowledges that the demand for complementary care is growing.

“We know that there is pretty serious demand for complementaryhealththerapies. From research we’ve done and a lot of national research, we know people are well-informed about differenthealth-care options. For those who are interested in such options, we wanted to make an opportunity for them to get care on a discounted basis from complementary providers who are credentialed.”
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota’s firsthealthplan. It is the largesthealthplan based in Minnesota. For more information, call toll-free 1 (888) 289-4325 or visit bluecrossmn.com.

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Tim Miejan
Tim Miejan is editor and co-publisher of The Edge, as well as a writer, editor and graphic designer who assists small businesses and individuals. Visit Miejan.com. Contact him at 651.578.8969 or email editor@edgemagazine.net.

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