HTH have recently merged with Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) to launch the GeoBlue product. Set to replace HTH's Global Citizen plan in the near future, HTH believe the new product will allow for better brand recognition, as well as increasing client experience in the USA by having the ability to avail of the Blue cross Blue shield US hospital network.
With one of the one of the biggest, most trusted and most recognised PPOs (preferred provider organisations) available, BCBS is one of the most prolific brands in health insurance in the USA. Making minimal changes to the actual policies, the change from HTH's Global Citizen to the GeoBlue plan is expected to increase both the international and US based portfolio.
HTH previously used Aetna as their PPO in the USA and despite the fact that Aetna is also a large and recognisable name, the policy did not gain the immediate recognition that their more established competitors enjoyed. This was most likely due to the fact that HTH's international plans were marketed under the HTH label, which was new to both the local and international markets. With the brand name changing from "HTH" to "GeoBlue" in collaboration with Blue Cross Blue Shield, higher levels of brand familiarity is one of the key components of GeoBlue's recently launched strategy to increase their portfolio in the international market.
This new brand name has allowed GeoBlue to enter into competition with two other major US insurance carriers that recently embarked on their own campaigns to increase their international presence, Aetna and Cigna. Aetna were first on the scene with their international insurance products for individuals, after purchasing a UK based insurer previously called "Goodhealth" in 2007, seeing good traction in sales due to the brand name. Though the Cigna International corporate plans have been available since the 70's, they only launched their IPMI (Individual Private Medical Insurance) plan "Global Health Options" internationally in 2011, followed quickly by a more cost effective "Advance" plan in 2012.
Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), an association of over 38 different companies, enjoyed the same levels of customer recognition as these two competitors in the USA. BCBS's have a detailed, pioneering history in the insurance world that dates back the late 1920's when a prototype for "prepaid hospitals plans" was launched by Blue Cross's forerunner company "Blue Health" in Texas, USA. After growing to have 3 million clients in just ten years, the Blue cross Logo was born in the late 1930's, with the Blue Shield Label following very closely behind.
After the two labels merging in 1982, the company has now grown to an enormous size, covering 100 Million people in America alone. On their books, BCBS has 76% of fortune 500 companies and 86% of fortune 100 companies, as well as being the provider for several US government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, providing health cover for the elderly and low income individuals and families respectively; as well as servicing the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the Military Health system and the Veterans health Administration among others.
Undergoing a complete re-branding is no easy matter, though when asked if this massive undertaking would be worthwhile, Brendan Sharkey from HTH commented:
"...the re-branding is a complex process that involves a lot of work to comply on a state-by-state basis. This is the price we pay for marketing superior international health insurance products that meet state mandates and offer consumers and brokers the protection they value."
David Hayes, sales director at Pacific Prime, also commented:
"The HTH plans were great value and were generally received well in the market, though now offering the same policies under the Blue Cross Blue Shield Banner will definitely increase their international sales potential. We have a history of clients from the US requesting cover from Blue Cross Blue Shield anyway, and we are excited to be able to respond positively to this request"
HTH/GeoBlue are quite unique among the expatriate Private medical insurers in that they cater directly for the US Market, covering only US nationals outside the USA, or non US nationals who are legally resident inside the US. This comes as a great relief for HTH's clients as they are one the few insurers with plans that are completely compliant regarding US laws and legislation relating to individual medical insurance. This compares to other US insurers on the international market that choose to base their plans out of other (usually European) countries.
Pacific Prime is very excited with this merger and is glad to be able to offer such assurance to their clients of being covered by one of the world's largest insurers.