A pilot program launched a year ago by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey has led to lower use of high-cost services such as emergency room visits and hospital admissions, according to a company study scheduled to be released today.

The program operated by the state’s biggest health insurer offers a glimmer that the company can both slow the cost of health insurance and improve patient health.

“We’re very confident about expanding (the program) more broadly,” said Richard Popiel, president and chief operating officer of Horizon Healthcare Innovations, a Horizon subsidiary.

Newark-based Horizon has 3.6 million members. The results come as health insurance costs continue to soar faster than workers’ wages — with little evidence that higher prices lead to better health. Read More