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Weekly health insurance roundup: November 22-26, 2010 Posted: November 26th, 2010

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Amerigroup health insurance wanted everyone to have a happy Thanksgiving, but UnitedHealthcare is concerned that too much turkey and the trimmings could spell big health bills in the future. There are these stories plus more from Blue Cross Blue Shield and Aetna in this week's roundup.


Aetna gets cooking

Health insurance companies don't have to be boring. Sure, all their talk of deductibles and health insurance rate calculations and participating providers may be enough to make your eyes glaze over, but Aetna knows how to have a good time too.

According to Atena's website, the insurance giant teamed up with celebrity chef Bobby Flay to host a 10 city cooking contest. The Aetna Healthy Food Fight was developed to create awareness of all the delectable - and healthy - eating options available.

The winner, Julie Hession of Las Vegas, came up with a quinoa stuffed turkey roulades creation. She served butternut-apple mash and maple roasted vegetables on the side. For her kitchen savvy, Julie won $10,000 worth of KitchenAid equipment. We're not sure what roulades are, but we hope Julie will invite us to dinner to find out.

Blue Cross Blue Shield is a mom's best friend

We have a trio of programs to report from Blue Cross Blue Shield this week. First up, we head to New England where Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine is working with H&R Block to make health reform a little less mysterious for small businesses. The two have teamed up to launch a pair of online tools that help businesses owners understand the grandfathering provision of health reform as well as the small business tax credits.

Then we brave the cold to go to Erie County in Pennsylvania. As the temperatures dip and the wind picks up, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is working with Operation Warm to keep kids bundled up. The program distributes coats to children from low-income families who would otherwise be left out in the cold. Nationwide, Operation Warm expects to distribute 150,000 coats and has served approximately 1 million children over the years.

We finish our cross-country trip in California where, according to their website, Blue Shield of California is honoring outstanding moms with its "Shield of Honor" recognition program. After a six-week social media campaign, four finalists were selected and bestowed with the Shield of Honor as well as an Apple iPad. The winning programs included activities to support entrepreneurial children, encourage outdoor activities for youth, provide resources for parents of micropreemies and help families dealing with a cancer.

UniteHealthcare is saving seniors money

As we near the close of the Medicare Part D open enrollment period, UnitedHealthcare is hoping to entice seniors to sign up for its plans with a Pharmacy Saver Program. Partnering with the Kroger, Safeway and Prescription Solutions pharmacies, enrollees will be able to receive select medications for as little as $2 out-of-pocket.

While seniors may be able to pay less now, UnitedHealth Group, the parent company of UnitedHealthcare, is concerned that we might all be paying more in the future if we don't lose weight. According to a study commissioned by the group, more than half of all Americans could have pre-diabetes or diabetes by 2020.

An analysis of data from the company's 10 million subscribers finds that in 2009, health care for a patient with diabetes averaged $11,700. If more than 50 percent of the population has diabetes or pre-diabetes, the cost over the next 10 years could hit a staggering $3.35 trillion.

Amerigroup health insurance is serving up holiday cheer

Thanksgiving is no fun if you have no food to share with family and friends. To help those hard hit by the current economic downturn, Amerigroup insurance lent a helping hand to make sure that the Georgia organization Savannah Feed the Hungry and Homeless was able to share a turkey dinner with area families in need. According to WSAV, along with the free meal, participants were treated to live entertainment and free health screenings.