HCPro Health Plan Insider - December 31, 2008 | Health Insurance—Coming To a Mall Near You View as a Webpage | Subscribe for Free
Health Insurance—Coming
To a Mall Near You

Les Masterson, Senior Editor-Managed Care

The move into retail marketing channels might seem strange at first blush, but it is a natural progression in consumer-driven health. If health plans want members to act more like consumers, insurers may have to meet shoppers in that consumer environment. [Read More]
  December 31, 2008

 
Editor's Picks
Budget office sees hurdles in financing health plans
In preparation of the healthcare reform debate expected in 2009, the Congressional Budget Office released a report that analyzed 115 options and suggested that many of the healthcare proposals are costly and would bring modest savings. Without reforms, the budget office wrote that health costs will increase to 25% of the gross domestic product in 2025 and uninsured Americans will rise by nearly one million a year, reaching 54 million people in 2019. The report also suggested that requiring doctors and hospitals to use health information technology could save the federal government $7 billion in the first five years and $34 billion over 10 years by reducing medical errors and avoiding necessary tests and procedure. [Read More]
Aetna cuts 1,000 jobs in response to downturn
Health insurer Aetna plans to cut nearly 3% of its workforce as yet another sign that health plans are not immune to the economic downturn. Officials expect to eliminate 1,000 positions to align administrative expenses with the company's growth outlook for next year and to redirect resources to areas with greater potential for growth. [Read More]
Enrollment nears federal cap for Indiana health plan
So many adults without children have enrolled in Indiana's year-old subsidized health insurance plan that their numbers threaten to reach a federal cap—especially as the recession lengthens and more people find themselves out of work. About half of the 41,948 people in the Healthy Indiana Plan are Hoosiers without dependent children. The cap on enrollees in that category is 34,000. [Read More]
FFS Medicare plan cancelled in Minnesota
About 3,700 retirees were notified last week that their fee-for-service Medicare plan known as North Star Advantage would be cancelled. NorthStar was launched in 2007 by Metropolitan Health Plan of Minneapolis, which is owned by Hennepin County. The Hennepin County Board decided to end the plan—primarily because fewer doctors will accept fee-for-service clients and to staunch the flow of red ink, estimated this year at $3 million to $6 million—but hoped to wait a year. However, Medicare officials in Washington convinced them last week that acting now would benefit clients. [Read More]
HUSKY health plan moves enrollees to new MCO
The Connecticut Department of Social Services is mailing notices to approximately 60,000 households enrolled in the HUSKY health insurance program telling them that they must switch to a new managed care network by February 1. The change is staunchly opposed by advocates who say the new networks don't have enough doctors. The switch is happening because the state wants to end HUSKY's relationship with Anthem Blue Care, one of the managed care providers for the health plan for low-income children and adults. Anthem withdrew from bidding for HUSKY last March, but has continued to provide coverage. DSS officials have said Anthem's continued participation in the program was preventing doctors from joining the other HUSKY plans. [Read More]
Managed Care Headlines
UnitedHealth gets preliminary OK to settle stock options suit
Minneapolis Star Tribune - December 19, 2008
Utah lawmakers roll out healthcare reform plan
Salt Lake Tribune - December 18, 2008
Massachusetts health plan has national appeal
Boston Globe - December 19, 2008
PacificCare fined for claims denials
The Oregonian - December 31, 2008
NC awaits growth of high-risk health insurance pool
Raleigh News & Observer - December 31, 2008
Spend last-minute FSA surplus on aspirin, Band-Aids
Orlando Sentinel - December 31, 2008

Events/Audio conferences
On Demand: Financial Meltdown: Managing Through The Crisis
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On Demand: Health Literacy: Four Ways to Create a Successful Program
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Listen Up
Top Lessons Learned at TLT 2008
Listen to healthcare industry leaders discuss their strategies and lessons learned at the 2008 HealthLeaders Media Top Leadership Teams conference in Chicago. [Listen Now]
From HealthLeaders Magazine
Can Individual Insurance Work?

Individual insurance is seen as both a rescuer and a villain. Supporters view the individual market as a critical option for the otherwise uninsured, but foes say such products don?t really protect consumers and can be inhumane to those who most badly need insurance. When it comes to the individual coverage market, remember these four truths. [Read More]
   
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