It was undeniably a challenging year for us and for you. We recognize and appreciate the faith you put in us to follow through on the big changes we wanted to make in 2007 that would improve your business and make it easier to work with Blue Shield.
We brought in Jim and Thad to make those changes and we're happy to report that it was a successful year with great results that will lead to even more improvements in 2008.
In particular, we've had a 15% increase in customer retention rates and we now include an explanation (YOY) with all renewals that come in above trend levels. This information enables you to better explain rate changes to your clients and stay informed about overall industry rate trends. We plan continued improvement of renewal explanations (YOY) and to have a higher percentage of customer renewals and increased retention rates in 2008.
To provide competitive pricing for new business, we've made great progress by instituting a new business pricing methodology in mid-market, resulting in better initial-release price competitiveness. We'll build on that success by developing new, ongoing pricing strategies to improve competitiveness and maintain pricing stability. We will only write business at a level we believe can be at or near trend at renewal.
We're actively working with you to develop a mid-year review process to facilitate proactive discussions around renewals and your groups' experiences so we can collaboratively address cost containment solutions and enable smooth renewals.
We hope you've experienced the benefits of our expanded sales and service team. This expansion was instituted to better support your business and serve new and renewal needs for your clients. Some team members are dedicated to being in the field while others are in the office resolving your issues to help keep your business running smoothly. Additionally, our new internal tool, SalesForce, will allow us to better track your clients' current and future needs.
As 2007 comes to a close, we're extremely proud of the progress we've made and the accomplishments of this year. We couldn't have done it without you.
We're on track to build on that success in 2008 and look forward to continuing to work with you to make further improvements that will support and help grow your business. Our ability to deliver on our brand proposition of "low cost" and "ease" is directly dependent on your continued support.
We thank you for your 2007 business and expect even greater success in the coming year. Stay tuned for ongoing updates on major milestones in the coming year.
After an extensive review and selection process, the California Health Care Coalition (CHCC) chose Blue Shield of California to collaborate with them to improve the quality and affordability of hospital and physician care in California. CHCC currently represents 43 public and private sector employers, unions, and trust fund member organizations, with a combined membership of 3 million Californians.
The CHCC-Blue Shield collaboration will focus on building quality, efficient HMO and PPO networks for CHCC member consideration and enrollment beginning in 2008.
"California's health industry delivers uneven quality care and is among the most expensive in the world," said Sally Covington, CHCC's executive director. "We selected Blue Shield because it made the strongest commitment to work collaboratively with us to make needed improvements in the quality, appropriateness, and cost of hospital and physician care."
Blue Shield and CHCC will work together to develop HMO and PPO networks that meet purchaser expectations for health care by being safe, effective, efficient, patient-centered, and fairly priced. Blue Shield will also provide access to wellness and other prevention and care management programs that can improve health and help reduce costs. CHCC member organizations will be able to decide if, when, and how to offer these HMO and PPO networks to their own plan beneficiaries.
"We are excited to work with the California Health Care Coalition to make it easier for its members to obtain quality health care and control costs," said Janet Widmann, vice president and general manager of Blue Shield's Labor, Public and Strategic Accounts sector. "Blue Shield is committed to marrying effective care with cost containment, and thereby delivering superior value to our customers."
The high-performance HMO will deliver more quality information on medical group performance to purchasers and their enrollees, and be available on both a fully insured and flex-funded basis. The high-performance PPO will be available initially on a self-funded basis only. Both networks will offer access to valuable online health management resources, including the Healthy Lifestyle Rewards program, which allows members to earn cash incentives for participation in online health and wellness programs.
Continuing our efforts to contain the growth of healthcare costs, Blue Shield will offer these high-performance HMO and PPO networks products to other customers after the CHCC launch.