Hospitals Offering health insurance?

A big chain of hospitals in Massachusetts, which goes by the name of Steward, is offering cheaper health insurance than what the insurance companies provides. The condition however, is that you have to to be admitted only in their chain of hospitals to get the coverage.

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Presently, health insurance companies and hospitals are two different entities. But this Massachusetts hospital wants to bridge this gap; by selling insurance coverage by itself. For more than a year now, Steward has been buying community based hospitals. The plan, managed through Tenet Health Plans, is called Steward Community Choice.

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The Community Choice plan, as released on Friday, gives you the benefit of premiums at 20 to 30 percent less than what other Massachusetts health insurers charge. In return, subscribers will by-and-large have to visit Steward locations (with some exceptions) for treatment.

In a conversation Friday, Steward CEO Ralph de la Torre explained how Massachusetts’ health reforms was in his mind when he drafted this plan. “In Massachusetts, we have the advantage or disadvantage of having begun health reform earlier than the rest of the United States,” he said. “If you want to get everyone covered, how do you pay for it? We’ve grappled with that in Massachusetts and looked for different solutions. This is one of them.”

However, some people are skeptical of this health insurance plan run by a hospital working. In the 90s, there were HMOs or Health Maintenance Organizations that gave a similar exchange between choice and cost. And though they did well for a few years, consumers were not happy with the limited options and HMOs began to decline steadily. De la Torre however believes that health insurance in these times are quite expensive. He admits that the health insurance plan by Steward Community Choice is specially geared to small businesses due to the increasing premium amounts that are a burden to them. Though the insurance may be limited, it is a cheaper health insurance option for people in Massachusetts

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