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Weekly health insurance roundup: October 11-15, 2010 Posted: October 15th, 2010

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates have been receiving accolades and awards across the nation. Meanwhile, Molina Healthcare is facing challenges in Idaho, while Aetna and UnitedHealthcare have announced more health insurance premium hikes.

Aetna expanding services and raising rates

Small group policyholders in Connecticut are the latest to feel the pain from increases in health care costs. Aetna has asked the Connecticut Insurance Department for increases of 16.6 to 17.2 percent for its small group customers. Those with high deductible plans could see premium hikes of 16.1 percent if the department okays the company's request.

In other Aetna news, the health insurance company signed an agreement with The Washington Hospital that will usher 200 Pennsylvania physicians into the Aetna preferred provider fold. In addition, the insurer unveiled a Be Smart About Your Health website designed to help consumers make the right choices during their open enrollment period.

Blue Cross Blue Shield--feeling the love

Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates must feel all warm and fuzzy inside after feeling the love they received this week. The awards and recognitions doled out to Blues member companies include the following:

  • Wellpoint received not 1, not 2, but 3 awards from the industry company URAC. The insurer was honored for its programs to improve maternal and prenatal health, as well as promoting better management of depression and anxiety among Medicaid patients.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognized Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina with an innovation award for its program, text4baby. The system sends weekly messages to users with information on having a healthy pregnancy and infant care tips.
  • Anthem Blue Cross got a pat on the back from its parent organization, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. The affiliate received a Best of Blue Award for working to bridge cultural gaps and improve diabetes care for Hispanic and African-American members.

While its sister companies were soaking up the praise, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in New Hampshire was getting down to work. It announced a series of immunizations clinics that would be available for residents to receive flu shots at a minimal fee.

Molina Healthcare experiencing a few bumps in Idaho

The recent partnership between Molina Healthcare and the state of Idaho has had a rough start. The insurance company was selected to manage the state's Medicaid billing and payments. However, three months after initiating services, many providers across the state are still waiting for their money, while others have been asked to return overpayments.

UnitedHealthcare raising rates in Tennessee

Commissioners in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee approved changes to their employee health plans to minimize an expected rate increase from UnitedHealthcare. The insurance company initially notified commissioners that the health insurance rate would increase 35 percent and then revised its estimate to a 24 percent increase.

When commissioners balked at that, the company suggested changes, such as increased deductibles, that brought the premium increase down to less than 10 percent.