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N.J. insurer, system struggle to address PR problems


Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and CarePoint Health, in Jersey City, N.J.,  are on campaigns to heal their bad PR.

CarePoint Health, a three-hospital, for-profit system, has been denounced by insurers and patient-advocacy groups for charging some of the  nation’s highest rates for out-of-network  treatment.

In defense of its out-of-network billing practices, CarePoint hired Rand Corp. to study the possible impact of pending state legislation  to limit the amount that providers can charge for out-of-network services.

The report  concluded that capping involuntary out-of-network rates to between 90 percent and 250 percent of the corresponding Medicare rate could cause between 48 percent and 75 percent of state hospitals to operate at a loss.

Meanwhile, Horizon, for its part, defended its controversial Omnia health plans,  which offer patients steep discounts for visiting providers in a preferred tier. The plans led to   lawsuits from community hospitals whose lawyers argued that the low-cost plans would force them out of business.

So Horizon announced a plan to pay for a healthcare-advocacy organization largely composed of,  and led by, business and labor groups and aimed at improving healthcare literacy among New Jerseyites.

So farm, the PR campaigns/diversions have not met with much applause.

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