BC/BS of Minnesota eliminates co-pays for retail clinic visits

EAGAN, Minn. Looking to make it even easier for consumers to access cost-effective healthcare, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is offering a new benefit option that eliminates co-pays for members who use retail-based clinics.

“Our members have made it clear that they appreciate the option of retail clinics. Blue Cross members in Minnesota made more than 40,000 visits to retail clinics in 2007, a nearly 100 percent increase over the previous year, and we expect this rapid growth to continue,” stated Shawn Patterson, vice president of marketing. “We created this new option because it helps hold health care costs down and is responsive to consumers’ wide acceptance of retail clinics.”

The option is available to most fully insured small and large group plans, resulting in hundreds of thousands of Blue Cross members who will benefit from lower out-of-pocket costs. It is the first health care plan in the state to offer this benefit.

Blue Cross found that the average cost of a retail clinic visit for typical services was about half the cost of a visit to a traditional medical clinic: $47 at a retail clinic versus $97 at a traditional clinic. Blue Cross estimates that employers and members saved more than $1.25 million in health care costs in 2007 by using retail clinics.

Those interested in a list of qualifying clinics can visit www.bluecrossmn.com and search for “retail clinics brochure.” Members may also call the toll-free number for customer service located on the back of their ID cards.

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