Customization of benefits: Will diversity continue?

In this era of tight margins, many health plan executives may be deciding that while offering purchasers customized benefit packages is a nice touch, it is unprofitable. InterStudy Publications’ National HMO Census indicates that a third of HMOs are moving toward standardization of benefits and are choosing to differentiate themselves on some basis other than customization, such as price or customer service. About 7 in 8 HMOs today will customize benefit packages only when a purchaser has a specified minimum number of employees.

Not that most purchasers have no choice at all. On average, more than 4 in 10 commercial HMOs offer more than 15 different benefit packages each, before customization. And when customization is negotiable, vision, dental, chiropractic and out-of-network coverage are frequently available.

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