BCBS Entity Horizon Healthcare Launches Behavioral Health Integration Subsidiary

Horizon Healthcare Services launched a new behavioral health integration service called NovaWell.

Announced Monday, NovaWell’s services are designed to help health plans and health systems accelerate behavioral health integration within their existing systems.

Horizon Healthcare Services owns the license for and operates Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ). Several Horizon BCBSNJ leaders are involved with NovaWell as well.


Horizon Healthcare Services created NovaWell after it found success bringing behavioral health benefits management in-house. It previously outsourced those benefits to another company, the release states.

NovaWell uses data analysis to identify gaps in care and direct individuals to behavioral health services. NovaWell promises a turnkey solution that expands evidence-based behavioral health resources.

“Behavioral health is a deeply personal mission to all of us at NovaWell,” Suzanne Kunis, NovaWell’s CEO and president, said in the release. “We were not satisfied with the status quo and set out to reimagine our delivery system to create true integration and parity between physical health and behavioral health.”


She added that behavioral health integration leads to a 9% to 17% reduction in medical expenses. 

Kunis is also the vice president of behavioral health at Horizon BCBSNJ. She joined Horizon BCBSNJ in 2017 after a more than 20-year career at Magellan Health, a Phoenix-based MBHO.

Horizon BCBSNJ CEO and President Gary St. Hilaire also acts as NovaWell’s chairman.

“NovaWell’s approach works to deliver significant reductions in emergency room utilization and total cost of care by improving health outcomes, engagement rates, and health effectiveness scores,” St. Hilaire said in the release.

The nuts and bolts

NovaWell has four core products. It offers an integrated care, utilization and quality management system. The system assesses physical, behavioral and pharmaceutical services inputs.

NovaConnect assesses member needs and directs them to self-service tools. NovaCommunityCare connects providers to members with serious mental illness or substance use disorders.

NovaNetwork helps health plans improve their behavioral health provider network.

Payers have been looking to advanced analytics and data analysis as a means of better coordinating behavioral health and physical health needs. Horizon BCBSNJ itself did so through its Neighbors in Health program.

Horizon BCBSNJ has also turned to technology for care services, too. In July, the insurer struck a deal with digital mental health company Valera Health to expand its offerings for members.

Horizon BCBSNJ has grown the size of its behavioral health network by 40% since 2018.

The federal government is incentivizing greater behavioral health integration through its latest Medicare reimbursement rules.

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