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'BluePrint' is Allina, Blue Cross Blue Shield plan encouraging patient visits

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Two giants in Minnesota's health care system have developed a health plan designed to encourage patients to see their doctor.

The new "BluePrint" plan from Allina Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota will let enrollees skip co-pays and the deductible for the first two office visits.

It aims to remove some of the financial barriers to patients seeking help when their policies renew.

The move comes as the federal health care overhaul is prodding insurers and providers to keep patients healthier.  

Dr. Bob Wieland, an Allina Health executive vice president, sees the trend towards more collaboration continuing.  

"I think health plans have areas of expertise that provider organizations don't, on the marketing side, in product development, and sales," Wieland said. "Provider organizations have clinical data, clinical expertise, and I think a large ability to manage populations more effectively than a health plan does."

If state regulators approve, the plan will be available on MNsure, the state's new insurance marketplace going live in October.

Under the BluePrint plan, the first two office visits -- for primary care, specialty, or behavioral health visits -- are covered at 100 percent. For people with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, there would be an additional office visit covered at 100 percent. 

There would be no out of pocket costs for medications and supplies to manage those chronic conditions.

Garrett Black, a senior vice president of Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota, said the collaboration with Allina came in response to a changing health care marketplace.

"Health plans and providers recognize that we need to deliver more value from our health care system to deliver a better experience for consumers within our health care system," Black said.