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Weekly Health Insurance Round-Up: July 12-16, 2010 Posted: July 16th, 2010

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Special Olympics, healthy babies and a major whoops! highlight this week's health insurance round-up. Molina, Blue Cross Blue Shield and United HealthCare join Aetna as we wrap up all the notable happenings in the world of health care.

Weekly Health Insurance Round-Up: July 12-16, 2010

Health plan customers in California and New York may see their premiums rising soon. Meanwhile, Aetna is working to stem the tide of uninsured workers nationwide. Molina is getting bigger while United HealthCare had a bit of a privacy malfunction. All in all, it's just another week in the wide world of health care.

Aetna rates are rising while coverage is expanding

It's bad news for Aetna health insurance policy holders in California and New York. First up, Aetna had a spat with the Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse and area residents were left to pick up the tab. The insurer will no longer recognize the hospital as an in-network provider. The result may mean some 47,000 Aetna customers will pay 20-30 percent more for services at the hospital.

Meanwhile, it's try, try again in California. After withdrawing their initial rate increase request last month because of math errors, Aetna is back with a filing that will create an average 14 percent increase in premiums for Californians with individual health plans. The new medical insurance rates would be capped at a 20 percent increase if approved by the state.

All this happens as Aetna's U.S. based suppliers announce they have provided access to health insurance to all their employees. Aetna had set a January 2011 deadline for its suppliers to comply with the initiative intended to reduce the number of uninsured workers, but the companies confirmed that they reached the goal a full six months early.

Blue Cross Blue Shield embraces technology and Special Olympics

Across the nation, Blue Cross Blue Shield companies are embracing social media to spread the message of healthy living and wellness initiatives. Last month, it was Florida and California. This month, Missouri and Massachusetts jump on the bandwagon. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Missouri is offering healthychat.com and using social media outlets, such as Twitter and Facebook, to help consumers understand the health reform changes coming down the pipeline.

In Massachusetts, Blue Cross Blue Shield is trying to tap into the 19.3 million moms who are texting by introducing a free mobile app, text4baby. The program offers encouraging texts to expectant and new moms and hopes to promote health and wellness for mothers and babies alike.

Finally, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota is making the dream a reality for 94 athletes who are heading to the Special Olympics USA National Games compliments of the health insurance company.

Molina takes over the competition

In Wisconsin, Molina health care has entered into an agreement to acquire Abri Health Plan. With the purchase of Abri, Molina will take over Medicaid managed care in the Badger State. What is Molina paying for the Wisconsin-based health plan? A cool $16 million.

United Healthcare: Whoops! Did we do that?

Some may say that any press is good press, but United Healthcare might disagree. It made headlines last week after announcing that confidential medical insurance claims summaries were sent to the wrong 1,097 people. United Healthcare insists that the information included in the mailings represents a low-risk of identity theft, but it is offering a free subscription to the Debix Identity Protection Network to affected policyholders, all of whom have policies through Deere & Co.

In other news, United Healthcare hosted a symposium to discuss the unique health challenges facing the Asian-American community.