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Banner Health, AZ Blues Partner in Medicare Health Plan

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, September 4, 2012

Banner Health, the Phoenix-based health system that operates 23 hospitals in Arizona, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona have formed a 50-50 joint venture to offer a new Medicare Advantage plan.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Advantage will initially be marketed throughout greater Phoenix—Maricopa County and portions of Pinal County where an estimated 500,000 Medicare-eligible people reside. The Medicare Advantage plan will be open for business by October 15, when the national open enrollment period for Medicare begins.

The new plan will replace Banner Health's existing 22,000-member Medicare Advantage plan and continue to offer similar benefits. It will be the Blues plan's first foray into the Medicare Advantage arena, although BCBSAZ does provide Medicare Supplement and Medicare Part D plans for more than 23,000 members.

Banner Health and BCBSAZ have been seeking ways to increase their presence in Arizona's highly competitive Medicare market, where Cigna, Health Net, Humana, and UnitedHealth already offer well-established products.

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