as its national provider, the insurer was able to expand with Starbucks' growth in the United States, said Annette King, director of benefits for the Seattle-based company.
Having a primary insurer with a national network offers Starbucks' employees the ability to move from location to location while maintaining the same coverage, King said.
With moves to one or a handful of insurers with a national network, the competition for large national accounts is heating up.
Some in the industry believe the current flat economy is reshaping the competitive landscape for large national accounts.
Often, major national health plans have an upper hand when it comes to acquiring large national accounts because of their size and scale.
Some regional players are feeling the pressure of coming up against national plans.
While Sierra Health also feels the pains of competing with national players from time to time, Giancursio said "often we win more than we lose" He said the company comes up with solutions for customers, depending on the products they purchase, to have access to national networks.
Sierra Health is bucking the trend of the national economy, said Giancursio.
Many of Sierra Health Services' large accounts are acquired through national consulting houses, said Giancursio.
The national account segment provides real opportunity for health plans, said Jon Rubin, chief financial officer of Cigna HealthCare.
National accounts comprise nearly 40% of Cigna HealthCare's total membership.
The program allows Blues plans to serve large national accounts by linking participating health-care providers and Blues plans through a single electronic network of claims processing and reimbursements, thus increasing network availability on a national basis.