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Aetna joins forces with CVS Caremark while Blue Cross Blue Shield plans take innovative steps Posted: July 30th, 2010

By Jim Sloan

New store in Colorado, grants for Utah children, pharmacy partnership and 24-7 multilingual advice line help make health care more accessible.

Weekly Health Insurance Round-Up: July 26 - 30, 2010 - Aetna joins forces with CVS Caremark while Blue Cross Blue Shield plans take innovative steps

Insurance companies were busy last week, with Aetna teaming up with CVS Caremark and Blue Cross Blue Shield opening a walk-in store. Also: Molina gets kudos for its phone service, and United Healthcare helps needy families in Utah.

Aetna unveils pharmacy deal with CVS Caremark

Aetna announced last week that CVS Caremark will provide Pharmacy Benefit Management services to 9.7 million Aetna members.

Under the 12-year contract, CVS Caremark will administer about $9.5 billion in annual drug spending, bringing its pharmacy care delivery services to Aetna's retail pharmacy network. CVS also will provide purchasing, inventory and prescription-filling services for Aetna's mail-order and specialty pharmacy operations.

The two companies said the agreement will improve care and flexibility while bringing innovative products and lower drug prices to Aetna customers. Aetna provides health care resources to more than 35 million people, and CVS Caremark is the largest pharmacy health care provider in the United States.

Blue Cross sponsors health fair in Seattle, opens store in Colorado

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association took their message of healthy living to the public in two different ways last week.

In Seattle, Regency BlueShield joined forces with the Seattle Seahawks, Sounders FC and King 5 to sponsor a week of free health screenings and educational events that culminated in the Be Well Family Health Fair at Quest field on Aug. 7. The free event featured a Kid's Zone, interactive wellness exhibits and activities, healthy cooking demonstrations, and soccer drills with trainers from Sounders FC, a Major League Soccer team.

Meanwhile, in Littleton, Colo., Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Colorado opened its first retail store that allows customers to buy individual health insurance policies. The store, part of a nationwide test to determine if health care reform results in more people interested in shopping for health insurance the same way they shop for other things, will be staffed with Anthem sales associates and will include wellness kiosks, a juice bar and a children's play area.

Molina Healthcare, Inc. gets kudos for advice line

Molina's Nurse Advice Line has earned accreditation from a Washington, D.C.-based health care organization.

The free, 24-hour phone service allows Molina Healthcare members to get answers to their medical questions by speaking to a registered nurse who is fluent in both English and Spanish. The phone service can also translate questions from more than 20 languages. It receives nearly 200,000 calls a year.

The Health Call Center Accreditation came from URAC, an organization that establishes quality standards for the health care industry. URAC was originally incorporated as Utilization Review Accreditation Commission, but now just goes by its acronym.

URAC CEO Alan P. Spielman said Molina Healthcare "has demonstrated a commitment to quality health care." The accreditation ensures that registered nurses, physicians or other medically licensed individuals provide the health care information in a way that is timely, confidential and medically sound.

United Healthcare offers grants for Utah children's treatment

United Healthcare's Children's Foundation is awarding grants to low-income Utah families to help them pay for their children's treatments, drugs or equipment not covered by their insurance, such as eyeglasses, hearing aids or wheelchairs.

The grants, for up to $5,000, must be for a child 16 years or younger who is commercially insured, although the insurance doesn't have to be from United Healthcare.

United Healthcare created the foundation in 1999 and as of summer 2010 has distributed nearly $5.5 million. to some 1,800 families, a quarter of whom applied for aid in just the last year.

Meanwhile, in Florida, United Healthcare said the senior citizens it insures through its Medicare supplemental policies won't be affected if the health insurance company fails to reach an agreement by Aug. 15 with the Florida Hospital chain.