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Weekly Health Insurance Roundup: November 8 - 12, 2010 Posted: November 12th, 2010

By Maryalene LaPonsie

It is open enrollment season in many workplaces, and it seems like everyone has health insurance on the brain. To help consumers find the right plan, Aetna and UnitedHealthcare have rolled out separate online tools. Meanwhile, Blue Cross Blue Shield is earning accolades in some states as accusations continue to fly in Michigan.

Aetna helps you find medical insurance and then use it

Every insurance company wants your business. They hope you'll go online, search for a quote and then click that magical 'apply now' button. However, the reality is that many insurer websites have consumers throwing up their hands in frustration and deciding to have a latte instead. Not Aetna's website. The company's new virtual spokesman, "David," uses plain English explanations of Aetna's plans to help you find the right policy.

Then, let's say you have that hot little health plan in your pocket and decide to jet off to the Alps for a while. When that foray into mountain climbing goes horribly, horribly wrong, Aetna will be happy to jet you back home through its new 24/7 On Call emergency services program. Just make sure your insurance is through Aetna Global Benefits before you grab that grappling hook.

Blue Cross Blue Shield the bully

Pity poor TheraMatrix. The small firm worked out a deal with Ford Motor Company that allowed the automaker to cut its physical therapy costs nearly in half. Of course, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan couldn't let that happen. The mega insurer threw its weight around when the little company that could tried to make the same arrangement with Chrysler and GM. The big business is accused of trying to crush the little guy in a lawsuit filed by TheraMatrix. What's the real story? We'll let you know just as the courts figure it out.

In happier Blue Cross Blue Shield news, the Arkansas affiliate received the A.M. Best Company's Rating of A (Excellent). The rating is an indicator of the affiliate's financial health. In other news, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield is providing nearly $2.5 million in grant money to the Washington D.C. YMCA to fund a Fit & Well Seniors program. And finally, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is testing a kiosk at the Durham's Streets at Southpoint Mall to help consumers in the Triangle region find the best Blue Cross product for their family.

UnitedHealthcare is expanding options

Wondering about all the fuss surrounding Health Savings Accounts? These accounts are designed to help you pay for your medical bills with pre-tax dollars. However, they make more sense for some individuals and families than others. Into which category do you fall? Visit the latest online offering from UnitedHealthcare, HSACenter.com, to learn more.

In Oregon, UnitedHealthcare is launching a Multi-Choice package that will give small businesses greater flexibility to offer a range of health plans. Employers with at least 50 workers can enroll in the program which gives their employees the opportunity to choose from up to 15 different health insurance options.

With its emphasis on new approaches to health care, it is no wonder that UnitedHealthcare was selected for the second annual Richard L. Doyle Award for Innovation and Leadership in Health Care. The award comes from Milliman Care Guidelines in recognition of the health insurance company's efforts to improve outcomes in gastrointestinal surgery patients.