Blue Cross adds a line It will market Guilford Group's consulting services


September 11, 1997|By M. William Salganik | M. William Salganik,SUN STAFF

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maryland announced yesterday that it will market, to its largest clients, the workers' compensation consulting services of the Guilford Group, based in Baltimore.

The arrangement gives Guilford, a small company with a tiny sales force of its own, access to Blue Cross clients. And it allows Blue Cross to market a product offered by some of its competitors, without the time and expense of product development.

This marks the second time that Blue Cross has agreed to market another company's insurance-related product. In December, Blue Cross took over marketing for Preferred Health Network, a for-profit managed-care company primarily owned by local hospitals. In that deal, Blue Cross also acquired a 16 percent stake in Preferred Health, which offers a "triple-option" health plan that allows patients a wider choice of doctors than traditional HMOs offer.

Gregory A. Devou, Blue Cross' executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said the company is not looking for other outside products it could offer. He said it would consider others related to health and insurance but already has products of its own of almost every type.

"We play in just about any segment there is to play in," Devou said. He said Blue Cross has about 150 employees in its sales division.

Devou said Blue Cross' license does not allow it to sell workers' compensation insurance, but it can offer Guilford's consulting services to companies large enough to be self-insured for workers' compensation.

Marcia Burgdorf DeWitt, the Guilford Group's president and chief executive officer, said the marketing efforts would be targeted at companies with more than 500 employees. Blue Cross said it has 38 clients in that range.

Blue Cross began its marketing of Guilford's services yesterday at a breakfast attended by representatives of about 20 of those large clients.

The Guilford Group, founded seven years ago this week, has clients in 48 states, DeWitt said. She said it has about 15 full-time employees, plus 40 to 50 who work "on a project basis," so that there are 20 to 30 working at any one time.

The Guilford Group is neither an insurer nor a provider of medical care. It advises employers and builds networks of doctors and clinics to treat injured workers. The clinics must agree to see patients within 20 minutes, and specialists must agree to see them within 24 hours.

While managed-care health insurers have been negotiating lower rates with doctors and hospitals, DeWitt said, "we ask that the provider do more, so we may pay more." Doctors can earn bonuses based on patient satisfaction and how quickly they return injured workers to the job.

More than half of the cost of on-the-job injuries comes from time missed on the job, DeWitt said, so employers are realizing that it is worth paying more to doctors and clinics who produce good results.

Pub Date: 9/11/97

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