Blue Care Network and Mercy Health partner on low-cost insurance plan


Detroit-based insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan serves more than 4.4 million people. Photo via

In response to the Affordable Care Act’s goal of reducing the number of uninsured Americans, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Mercy Health in Grand Rapids have announced that as of Oct. 1, residents of Kent, Muskegon and Oceana counties who don’t have employer-sponsored health insurance, or who are Medicare-eligible, will be able to buy insurance from Blue Care Network of Michigan that is “very affordably priced.”

The insurance will provide access to care by Mercy Health’s 700-plus doctors and four hospitals in West Michigan.

The health insurance for individuals under 65 is priced to appeal to people in the three counties who seek affordable health insurance and care coordinated through local hospitals and doctors affiliated with Mercy Health, according to the announcement. Pending final approval from state and federal regulators, it will be offered for sale when the state’s federally mandated health insurance exchange begins open enrollment Oct. 1, with coverage effective Jan. 1, 2014.

The insurance also will be offered for sale directly from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, as a Blue Care Network product, and indirectly through independent agents. The Medicare insurance also will become available starting Oct. 1.

“Health care reform is driving significant changes in the marketplace, and the price of insurance products has become paramount to consumers,” said Jeff Connolly, BCBSM president of West Michigan Operations and Managed Care. “Many people will be looking to trade broad network access for a quality local network and a lower-cost insurance premium. We applaud our partners at Mercy Health for their energy and ingenuity in working with the Blues to develop these new, affordable health insurance options for people in west Michigan.”

“Insurance products that provide quality health care, coordinated through local networks of physicians and hospitals, are a real solution for people who lack access to affordable health coverage today,” said Kevin Sears, vice president for payer and product innovation at CHE Trinity Health, of which Mercy Health is a part. (Mercy Health is the new name for the health care system that includes Saint Mary’s hospital in Grand Rapids, the Mercy Health hospitals in Muskegon and others.)

Sears said there are “more than 100,000 uninsured people in these three counties, and thousands more who want an affordable health plan option. These people will benefit immediately from these products that we have jointly developed with the Blues.”

Sears noted that these two types of plans are among the first of similar insurance plans to come in other markets served by CHE Trinity Health.

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