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Weekly health insurance roundup: November 1-5, 2010 Posted: November 5th, 2010

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Does money make the world go round? That may be up for debate, but a lot of money is flying in this week's health insurance roundup. Aetna has good news for its investors while Blue Cross Blue Shield is trying to keep dollars in its members' pockets. We've got these stories plus more for the week of November 1, 2010.


Aetna isn't opposed to making a little money

Whose shareholders are grinning from ear to ear this week? Aetna's shareholders, that's who! The company announced that despite a decline in membership, its third quarter profits were up a whopping 53 percent. Aetna has adjusted its full-year financial forecast to project profits of $3.60 per share for 2010.

Blue Cross Blue Shield is feeling thrifty

Across the country, Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates have introduced programs intended to help their members save money.

Up first is Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. The insurer joined forces with Duke University and the University of North Carolina to determine how much of an impact co-payments had on prescription usage. Their study found that patients with chronic diseases were more likely to regularly fill prescriptions when they were free or nearly free. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is now looking for financially sustainable ways to help patients keep their co-payments low in the long run.

Then, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in Colorado is making medical costs more transparent for its members. The Anthem Care Comparison is an online tool that lets members review all the costs--from initial testing through recovery--for certain medical procedures. The comparison tool includes information for MRIs, knee replacements and colonoscopies among other health services.

Finally, we head to the east coast where CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield has approved the use of Maryland nurse practitioners as primary care providers. The 3,500 nurse practitioners in the state have hailed the decision as a step toward greater health care accessibility and transparency.

Molina Healthcare is in the limelight

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has given some props to Molina Healthcare in its 2010-11 Medicaid Health Insurance Plan Rankings. Among the highlights, Molina Healthcare was the highest ranked Medicaid plan in Utah. The Utah plan also ranked as #29 nationally compared to other Medicaid plans. The other Molina Healthcare plan breaking into the top 50 rankings was its Michigan program which ranked #47.

Amerigroup Insurance is taking it to the streets

In the Bronx, Amerigroup Health Insurance is doing some good. It opened the Bronx Community Care Service to provide health care to an underserved neighborhood. The facility offers low-cost or free services to income-eligible families. In addition, the center will coordinate care with nearby clinics and hospitals as needed. Amerigroup, we tip our hat to you.