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Barnabas to launch its own health insurance plan

Program, coming in 2015, will serve individuals and small business employers

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Barnabas CEO Barry Ostrowsky said the insurance plan will be offered on the exchange.
Barnabas CEO Barry Ostrowsky said the insurance plan will be offered on the exchange. - (PHOTO BY AARON HOUSTON)

Barnabas Health, the state's largest health care system, will launch its own health insurance plan in 2015, Chief Executive Officer Barry Ostrowsky told NJBIZ.

Ostrowsky said the seven-hospital system will partner with a yet-to-be determined insurance company to offer the program, which will be pitched to both individuals and small employers.

The plan will begin enrolling members in late 2015, Ostrowsky said. And while he said Barnabas plans to offer the program on the health exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, he said it would not be available on the exchange until 2016.

Ostrowsky said Barnabas Health is venturing into health insurance in an attempt to address what he feels is one of the biggest problems in the industry — the disconnect between financing health care and providing health care.

"It is one of the things that makes the health care delivery system intolerable," he said. "(Health care) is the only business where I deliver the service to the consumer and I charge somebody else. There is no other piece of commerce like that."

Ostrowsky hopes the plan can address another issue: keeping people healthy.

His vision, he said, is to offer a plan that helps lead the transformation of the health care system toward one focused on keeping people healthy, rather than just taking care of the sick.

"If we are going to sell this to a group of people, we are going to have to engage those people beyond just being consumers," Ostrowsky said. "I am going to want to encourage better lifestyles and (provide) encouragement to do the right things (health wise)."

He envisions a plan that coaches patients and coordinates the services they receive, rather than just allowing them to pay the premium and then do what they want.

"I desperately want to take a piece of the revenue that you collect and invest it in keeping people healthy — as opposed to reserving it and waiting for them to come to us when they are sick," he said.

Ostrowsky said the plan will be built around the Barnabas network of hospitals, doctors and other clinicians and outpatient facilities. He said it could offer members a two-tier network, in which members will have access to more affordable care if they remain in the Barnabas network.

Earlier this month, Freehold-based CentraState Health System announced it will launch a health plan targeted to small employers on March 1.

While CentraState is offering a self-insured plan managed by the health care network and claims administrator QualCare, the Barnabas plan will be a health insurance product. Ostrowsky said he has been in discussions with an insurance company partner that will be announced later.

Ostrowsky feels the Barnabas Health plan can have a big impact in the marketplace.

"It's going to be a big piece of the population," he said. "I would not want to quantify it, but this is not going to be a neighborhood plan."

E-mail to: beth@njbiz.com
On Twitter: @bethfitzgerald8

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Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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