The Future of BCBS Minnesota with MLRs, Investing in Telehealth Models

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In this second of a three-part video series, Craig Samitt, CEO and president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota talks with MHE about healthcare utilization, MLR rates and investing in telehealth models for the better care of its members.

Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) rates for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota are closely relatable to where the utilization rates were at this time last year, according to Craig Samitt, CEO and president of the organization.

BCBS of Minnesota is currently experiencing a "double peak" in healthcare use, which means they are seeing COVID-19 case frequency and hospitalization rates in the state at the highest it's been since the pandemic began, Samitt says.

Related: Healthcare Use at 'Double Peak' Through BCBS Minnesota

Due to this double peak, Samitt says their MLR rates were the lowest at the beginning of the pandemic because they've had a significant rise in healthcare utilization.

"We want to end the year on budget, as was originally designed because the investments, the favorability that we've experienced, either has gone into premium relief, it's gone into racial and health inequities or social determinants of health, or other investments that we can make to avoid an even worsening, sick community or to to help resolve the the inequities that we've seen in the industry," he says. "(Additionally), it's investing in sort of better telehealth infrastructure or better care delivery infrastructure so that next year, premiums don't rise."

In relation to telehealth, Samitt says BCBS of Minnesota is investing in models they believe are going to be more contemporary in primary care delivery.

"So we had shared before that we've gotten into the care delivery business, I think I had talked about being like Netflix, where we get into content, you very much are doing that because we see a hunger by patients and by consumers in an alternative care delivery model that isn't facility centric," he says. "And whether that's telehealth or mobile, urgent care, or care coordination, and the home, those are the things that we're investing in, because we believe that they're going to ultimately create a higher value model for patients that we're hungry for. I think we want our industry as high performing as other industries."