NU Online News Service, June 24, 3:55 p.m. – The Principal Financial Group, Des Moines, Iowa, announced today it will offer Minneapolis-based Patient Choice Healthcare, Inc.’s care system network to self-funded employers.

The national accounts division of the Principal Financial Group provides administrative services to more than 250 self-funded employee welfare benefit plans, covering more than 800,000 individuals nationwide.

The Principal will begin offering the Patient Choice care system network to self-funded employers in Minnesota with plan years beginning Jan. 1, 2003, with future offerings likely in other markets where Patient Choice has operations.

Under the Patient Choice program, providers align themselves into networks called “care systems” that include primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals and other health care professionals and facilities, the Principal says.

These care systems are tiered into several cost groups and compete for patients based on cost, quality and service. As a result, employees and consumers receive comparable information about their care providers and have access to high-quality care at several cost levels, the Principal says.