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Weekly Health Insurance Round-Up: September 27 - October 1, 2010 Posted: October 1st, 2010

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Blue Cross Blue Shield is going bilingual as it rolls out a new online resource for Spanish-speaking subscribers. It is just one of several programs that health insurance companies have debuted in the recent week.

Aetna showing Philly some love, while Colorado has the Rocky Mountain Blues

For Aetna subscribers, it's good news out east. Philadelphia area residents, who rely on the Crozer-Keystone Health System, can breathe a sigh of relief. Aetna has extended its contract with the system for three years, ensuring that local subscribers are able to continue their care without interruption.

However, in Colorado, Aetna decided that small group insurance coverage simply isn't profitable enough. So the insurer is pulling the plug on its small group insurance plans. That means 1,200 small businesses and 5,200 subscribers will be in the market for new health insurance soon. The insurance giant pulled out of Michigan's small group market earlier this year as well.

Blue Cross Blue Shield en espanol por favor

Topping the Blue Cross Blue Shield news is the announcement that the company will begin offering its AskBlue online tool in Spanish. The new website caters to Spanish-speaking individuals who are searching for insurance options.

In other news, Blue Cross Blue Shield is expanding health and wellness programs for federal employees. The new coverage will be part of the Standard Option and Basic Option government health plans and are focused on encouraging preventive care.

Finally, the Nebraska affiliate of the insurance giant is testing a new pilot program that is designed to improve care for patients while reducing costs for the company. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska launched a six month test of a "medical home" model of care. The model relies on the primary care physician to serve as a home base for patient care and coordinate all services offered through specialists and other health care providers.

UnitedHealthcare is all about Medicare

UnitedHealthcare has Medicare on its mind this week. The company announced its 2011 Medicare offerings as well as other programs aimed to help seniors get the health care they need. According to the insurer, 90 percent of the Medicare-eligible population will have access to its Part D and Medicare Advantage plans. In a reverse of the nationwide trend toward increased health care costs, UnitedHealthcare also announced that premiums for its most popular Part D plan, the AARP MedicareRX Preferred Plan, would drop $5 per month for current enrollees.

For seniors who are have difficulty determining what coverage they need, UnitedHealthcare is launching a "Medicare Made Clear" consumer campaign. Printed guides explain options and interactive kiosks will be available in partnering locations such as Safeway and Walgreens stores.

Last but not least, UnitedHealthcare has good news for New York residents. The company's commercial subscribers, as well as Medicare and Medicaid participants, will be able to continue using the Stellaris Health Network under a multi-year agreement inked between the two businesses.