West Coast carriers get competitive under Obamacare

It’s an unexpected consequence, but insurers are actively beefing up incentives in a bid to better compete under the ACA

Insurance News

By Lyle Adriano

Select health insurers across the country will offer free visits to primary care doctors in their networks. Those insurers already offering the benefit are devising ingenious ways to both distinguish themselves from the rest of the competition and to get more customers into their fold, making it a great opportunity for consumers to start shopping for private health insurance.

Previously thought unthinkable, the no-obligation doctor visits benefit is being introduced in a limited number of plans.

The free doctor visits benefit was rolled out following reports that steep copays and deductibles have discouraged private coverage policyholders from using their insurance under the ACA.

It is believed that by offering free doctor visits, patients may be promptly attended to and treated immediately, saving thousands of dollars in treating conditions that are largely avoidable. The benefit could also potentially cut down on the use of costly urgent care centers and emergency rooms.

Not all insurers are able to provide the no-fee doctor visits benefit; some of those that can notably operate health clinics of their own that are staffed by salaried physicians. Naturally, those insurers offering the benefit are highly sought after, but even among those companies, the competition runs fierce.

Zoom+ CEO Dave Sanders outlined that providing free doctor visits should attract new, young enrollees. He also said that his company is focused on marketing toward the millennial generation.

To better suit the needs of its younger target market, Zoom+ is promoting the use of its proprietary app that can help policyholders schedule an appointment.

Other insurers have sweetened their deals in a bid to win over more customers.

Florida Blue came up with its myBlue program, which allows for two free primary care doctor visits, charging only $1 a visit thereafter and $3 for specialist visits—all with routine lab tests and diabetic supplies added, free of charge.

For 2016, Molina Healthcare is providing zero copays for unlimited primary care doctor visits as part of its silver-tier plans.

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