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Health insurance news roundup: September 6-10, 2010 Posted: September 10th, 2010

By Peter Andrew

If there are two themes to this week's health insurance news, they are of companies striving to keep down rates while working with state officials to deliver better care more efficiently. Here are the details.

Aetna wins Illinois Medicaid managed care contract

Illinois Medicaid this week took a giant step toward establishing a fully functioning managed care model when it awarded contracts to two companies, Aetna Inc. and Centene-IlliniCare, to run its new program. Illinois hopes to save nearly $200 million over five years as a result of implementing the program.

Blue Cross Blue Shield NC slows rate increases

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina's proposed 2011 rate increase was reported in American Medical News this week. At seven percent, the increase is the lowest in three years. The proposed rate increase still has to be approved by the state's Department of Insurance, which has just receive a $1 million federal grant to allow it to review rate increase applications in greater depth. With roughly 300,000 members, Blue Cross Blue Shield is believed to be the biggest health insurer in North Carolina.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Florida is the state's highest earning health insurer

According to the Insurance Journal, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida has the state's highest revenues, with its 2009 figures topping $3.9 billion. That beats UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company's $2.2 billion earnings from premiums (the second highest) by a wide margin.

Interestingly, that's in spite of the fact that--with 1,152,059 members--UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company had slightly more policyholders in the state than Blue Cross Blue Shield, which covered 1,106,191 Floridians that year.

Molina Healthcare manages CHIP programs in rural areas of Texas

Beginning this month, Molina Healthcare of Texas will administer the state's Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and its CHIP Perinatal Program. The state of Texas' CHIP program manages health care provisions for nearly 64,000 children and pregnant women in low-income families living in 174 mainly rural counties in Texas. CHIP has been operational in Texas for three years now, and is designed to provide an inexpensive alternative for families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to afford private coverage.

Health premiums in Maryland unaffected by federal reforms

Those who expected significant jumps in health insurance rates in the wake of this year's federal health care reforms may be surprised by a recent announcement by Maryland's acting director of insurance administration, Beth Sammis. According to Sammis, although a few health insurance companies have requested rate increases, a few have not asked to raise rates ahd the state's second largest insurer, UnitedHealthcare, has actually reduced some rates.

UnitedHealthcare/Scotland Memorial Hospital contract ends

UnitedHealthcare and Scotland Memorial Hospital have failed to agree to terms for a new contract. A hospital spokesperson has warned that UnitedHealthcare members may be regarded as out-of-network unless their coverage is part of a Medicare supplement or they are already undergoing treatment for certain conditions. The two parties continue to seek a resolution.