Allina Health|Aetna touts new partnership plans

NEW ULM — Tom Lindquist, CEO of the new Allina Health|Aetna Company, was in New Ulm Wednesday to introduce the new partnership to potential customers for the company’s plans.

Allina Health|Aetna is the newest partnership for Aetna, which Lindquist said has similar partnerships in five other cities in the U.S.

Allina Health|Aetna is one of the state’s largest health care providers and one of the nation’s biggest health insurance providers to offer a health plan that hopes to provide better care options at a better cost. By partnering, Aetna and Allina Health are able to focus on the individual with the common mission of improving the individual’s health. The approach aligns the goals and mission of each entity to focus on what’s best for the individual.

Lindquist said one way to accomplish this is to get people focused on their own health, which Allina has been doing for the past ten years with the Heart of New Ulm program. By identifying people with health risks and helping them deal with them before they become ill, people can avoid the illness and the costly treatments that often come with them.

Allina Health|Aetna is not in the individual market, so its customers would be businesses and small groups looking for health insurance.

The challenge for companies and groups looking for health insurance in the past is to find a balance between the right benefits package and an affordable cost, said Lindquist. In a joint venture like this, the health care provider and the insurance company are not competing against each other, but are aligned in their goals.

“For us, as a joint venture, by aligning incentives, we can put forth a a benefit package at a price we think is going to be very competitive, because we are actually working together,” Lindquist said.

Allina Health|Aetna focuses on outcomes by having the clinicians serve as the primary leader in care management. Instead of a registered nurse in the insurance claims office running the health provider’s bill against some algorithm to see if it is a normal, allowable claim, the health care providers have more input on identifying people who need help “quicker, faster and better,” said Lindquist. This cuts away administrative layers and helps hold down costs.

Allina Health|Aetna is also offering Medicare Advantage plans, which will be important for the 300,000 or so Minnesotans who are losing their Medicare Cost plans due to changes in government rules. Medicare Advantage plans provide supplements to Medicare coverage to reduce out of pocket expenses for the patient.

NUMC President Toby Freier pointed out that not all Medicare Advantage plans include Allina Health and New Ulm Medical Center in their network of providers.

“It will be very confusing and disappointing for seniors to learn Blue Cross Medicare plans in the local area will not include NUMC in-network in 2019,” he said.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota will be offering Medicare Advantage PPO plans to members in Blue Earth, Brown, Nicollet, Watonwan counties in 2019 which will NOT include Allina Health and New Ulm Medical Center as in-network providers.

It means patients would have significantly higher out of pocket expenses to maintain a relationship with NUMC doctors and services starting Jan. 1, 2019.

Allina Health will still be in-network for other Blue Cross commercial plans.

This change will only affect the Medicare Advantage PPO plans.

Individuals should talk with an insurance broker to find a plan that best meets their needs and provides in-network access to their preferred physicians.