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Steward Health takes insurer role

The Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2011

Massachusetts hospital operator Steward Health Care System LLC will launch a new insurance plan that requires consumers to use it for nearly all routine health-care needs, a sign of health-care providers' growing interest in such products. Steward, owned by Cerberus Capital Management LP, plans to work with the nonprofit Tufts Health Plan to create Steward Community Choice, which will be aimed at small businesses and is expected to go into effect Jan 1, assuming regulatory approval. The partners are betting that the plan's price—which they say will be as much as 15% to 30% below comparable products—will be appealing enough to overcome potential consumer concerns about the limited choice of medical providers. "It's keeping the care in the community, where it's less expensive," said Ralph de la Torre, Steward's chief executive.