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HNE earns stellar ranking

Date: 3/13/2012

March 14, 2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD — Health New England (HNE) recently joined an elite group. The health care insurance company was given the five-star rating by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS).

The rating was announced at a press event at City Hall on March 9 hosted by Mayor Domenic Sarno.

Of the more than 500 health insurance companies in the nation, only nine have earned this designation. HNE is the only Medicare Advantage Plan in Massachusetts to be awarded this status.

According to information supplied by HNE, the rating is "Medicare's highest rating and reflects a plan's overall performance. Medicare determines a plan's overall performance rating based on information from member satisfaction surveys, HEDIS (quality effectiveness data) results, and CMS monitoring data. A plan can get a rating between one and five stars. These ratings help prospective members compare plans based on quality and performance. Plan performance summary star ratings are assessed each year and may change from one year to the next."

Sarno extolled HNE for being "a great corporate community citizen" and noted the company has 300 employees working in downtown Springfield who serve 5,000 employers and 125,000 subscribers.

State Rep. Michael Finn, who served on the healthcare reform finance committee, called HNE "a role model on how to provide quality care at a rate that is manageable for the population going forward."

State Sen. Gale Candaras noted that state health and insurance officials have examined how HNE works to use the company's practices elsewhere.

HNE President and CEO Peter Straley said HNE is the only insurance provider that subscribers can walk into Monarch Place office in Springfield and receive assistance with questions and problems.

"We're not out-sourced. We're in-sourced," he said.

Part of HNE's difference is that it is part of Baystate Health System, he explained.

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