PreferredOne Newsroom

New health plan saves money for northern Minnesota employers

Regional hospitals and clinics join forces with PreferredOne to introduce Wilderness Health ACO, a new way to manage health care costs and quality.

Duluth, Minn. June 15, 2017— Wilderness Health and PreferredOne introduce Wilderness Health ACO, a lower-priced employer health plan, to the northern Minnesota market.

The locally developed plan began as a way to offer northern Minnesota employers more choice in how they provide employees health care coverage. Fairview Range, St. Luke’s and Grand Itasca provide the foundation for Wilderness Health ACO, which features 10 regional hospitals and more than 30 clinics. On average, the ACO plan is 15% less expensive than open access network products.

“The plan features the hospitals, clinics and doctors in the communities where your employees live and work,” says Cassandra Beardsley, executive director at Wilderness Health. “There’s value in keeping health care local. To do that well, we need a sustainable model that aims to lower costs and increase quality of care. Wilderness Health ACO delivers dozens of plan designs at a fair price for fully insured and self insured employers.”

Wilderness Health ACO works with PreferredOne, a flexible health plan administrator based in Golden Valley. For self-funded employers, PreferredOne can match a company’s existing plan design or make recommendations to further rein in claims costs.

And there is plenty of choice for members as well. Employees can choose the ACO network and see immediate savings on their premiums. They can visit any provider within the Wilderness network. Employees can also choose an open access option for statewide coverage since most employers offer the plan options side-by-side. In either case, the networks include Minnesota’s best regarded specialty physicians for complex or critical care. Employers also have the choice to add a travel network or coast-to-coast coverage—an advantage for families with students who attend out-of-state colleges.

“ACOs are PreferredOne’s fastest growing care model in Minnesota,” says Fride Mauritzen, who represents the health plan for PreferredOne. “The plan coordinates member care to manage expensive treatment plans and minimize inappropriate and excessive procedures. We have data to prove how effectively the model reduces costs and improves healthcare quality.”

“Employees appreciate ACOs, too,” she continues. “They receive a welcome call to begin building a relationship with Wilderness Health ACO. We introduce ourselves, answer questions, help them find nearby network providers or transfer medical records if necessary. The point is to connect personally and let members know we’re always here for them.”

Wilderness Health is a collaborative of independent providers working together to improve health care in Northern Minnesota. Headquartered in Two Harbors, Wilderness Health brings smart strategies, such as shared services and accountable care organizations, to Minnesota’s rural health care systems.

PreferredOne is a health plan administrator serving employers throughout Minnesota. Headquartered in Golden Valley, Minn., PreferredOne leads the state in building and supporting regional ACOs.