Highmark expands closed network plans to West Virginia and Delaware

A private insurance exchange is the newest lever for employers trying to get a handle on health care coverage.

Highmark Health Services on Friday announced it is expanding its closed network product into West Virginia and Delaware in January. Private exchanges, also called defined contribution health insurance plans, allow employers to offer employees a variety of Highmark products within a fixed budget.

The approach gives employers better control over insurance spending, while employees can tailor coverage to individual needs.

Highmark’s private exchange, called MyBenefits, started in 2011. As of July, nearly 80 businesses were using the product, with nearly 6,000 members enrolled, according to the company.

“More than 14 percent of the groups choosing our defined contribution approach are new clients to Highmark Health Services, and we nearly doubled the number of supplemental products sold to existing customers,” Senior Vice President Steven Nelson said in a prepared statement.

Highmark was among the first health insurers in the country – and the first in Pennsylvania – to offer defined contribution plans. The downtown-based insurer also offers MyRetireeBenefits platform for large groups, providing an alternative to employers and unions that are trying to manage retireee medical spending.

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