Health Net Federal Services Launches Facebook Page

Health Net Federal Services, LLC, part of the Government Contracts segment of Health Net, Inc. (NYSE:HNT) and managed care support contractor for the TRICARE North Region, has launched a Facebook page to connect with its military service members, families and customers it serves in a new way.

“We are excited about the opportunity to engage with our beneficiaries through social media, an evolving vehicle of choice to communicate conveniently and in real time,” said Steve Tough, president, Health Net Federal Services. “We hope this serves as yet another avenue for beneficiaries to retrieve the latest TRICARE North information.”

On its Facebook page, Health Net Federal Services will highlight TRICARE news, benefit changes, healthy living tips and stories that interest its military families. Specifically, this month, Health Net Federal Services will highlight Month of the Military Child, alcohol awareness, and tips to keep military families sailing smoothly through a Permanent Change of Station.

Throughout May, posts will focus on Emergent and Urgent Care, Behavioral Health, Mother’s Day, Military Family Appreciation Month, Armed Forces Day and Asthma. Health Net Federal Services invites all TRICARE North Region beneficiaries, providers and its partners to follow it on Facebook.

To become a Fan of Health Net Federal Services, visit: http://www.facebook.com/healthnetfederalservices.

About Health Net Federal Services: Health Net Federal Services, LLC, a subsidiary of Health Net, Inc., has a long history of providing cost-effective, quality managed health care programs for government agencies, including the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. As the managed care support contractor for the TRICARE North Region, Health Net provides health care services to nearly 3.0 million uniformed services beneficiaries, active and retired, and their families.

Capital BlueCross Launches Web Portal to Help People Learn About Health Care Reform

Capital BlueCross has launched a Web portal intended to help people learn about the recently enacted health care reform law. The site features short video clips of Capital BlueCross executives discussing various aspects of the new law, ranging from broader structural issues (such as financial and quality of care implications) to more specific issues of concern to our customers (such as changes in dependent coverage and Medicare-related questions).

The site also includes a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section that will be updated on a regular basis based on questions the company receives from its various stakeholders. Other resources found on the site are executive opinion-editorials and links to other key sources of health care reform information.

The portal can be accessed through the company Web site at www.capbluecross.com. Click on “Learn About Health Care Reform” from the homepage. People are encouraged to visit the Web portal often, as it will be updated to reflect questions of interest raised by subscribers, and with new health care reform information as it becomes available.

“The new law is lengthy and, in parts, complex. It is natural for people to have a lot of questions,” said Mike Merenda, executive vice president. “So we looked for a way to guide our subscribers through the changes and to help make this more comprehensible. And we thought at least one way to do this would be to arrange for brief, informal discussions on different topics with the various people at our company. At the same time, we continue to gather questions from our stakeholders and to add written responses to the most frequently asked questions on the site.”

Capital BlueCross is the leading health insurer in its region, providing health insurance coverage to nearly one million people in central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. Capital BlueCross is committed to making health insurance simple for its customers and members through all the stages of life by offering nationally acclaimed customer service and a full range of innovative benefit programs for group and individual customers at competitive prices.

The company has been providing health security to the people and communities of central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley for more than 70 years and employs about 2,000 people in the region.

Capital BlueCross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

More information about Capital BlueCross and its subsidiaries can be found by going to www.capbluecross.com.

Source: Capital BlueCross

Aetna Launches New Program to Help Members Achieve Healthy Lifestyles and Health Care Savings

Research shows that unhealthy lifestyles cost the United States billions of dollars each year in higher health care costs and lost productivity. Aetna (NYSE:AET) today announced an expanded solution to help employees achieve and maintain healthy lifestyles while helping employers tackle these growing costs.

The new Healthy Lifestyle Coaching program, available September 1, 2010, provides one program that addresses multiple health issues including weight management, tobacco cessation, stress management, nutrition, physical activity and preventive health. The program offers personalized, one-on-one coaching sessions, as well as online self-directed programs, aimed at helping members stay engaged in improving their health over time. Healthy Lifestyle Coaching is also connected to other Aetna health and wellness services, creating a seamless, integrated approach that allows members access to the care that best meets their specific needs, and helps employers maximize the value of other programs they buy from Aetna.

“Our new Healthy Lifestyle Coaching program responds to direct feedback from our customers who are looking for a more holistic, integrated approach to helping their employees make lasting health improvements,” said Karen Weinseiss, Aetna’s head of Innovation, Program Development and Management. “We know that health coaching programs can help to change behaviors. In fact, Aetna’s own research showed that members who participated in health coaching programs were 46 percent more likely to reduce their Body Mass Index and 48 percent more likely to get adequate exercise compared to members who did not participate in a coaching program. This program takes health coaching to the next level by connecting lifestyle coaching with other Aetna clinical programs to help members stay engaged in continuous health improvement, leading to better outcomes over time.”

At the core of the program is a motivational coaching model with highly trained and experienced in-house clinical staff. A major enhancement in the new Healthy Lifestyle Coaching program is that clinical professionals will be able to see an end-to-end holistic view through Aetna’s care management system. Through this technology, coaches will be able to easily connect member information to create more meaningful, personalized and relevant interactions between coaches and members. Coaches will help members eat better, get in shape, lose weight, reduce stress, quit smoking and more. Members will benefit from referrals to other programs that can address additional health issues and co-morbid conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and others beyond the Healthy Lifestyle Coaching program. The program will be delivered to members through a variety of ways including telephone coaching sessions and e-mail communication. To better support user preferences and learning styles, the program also will be integrated with Simple Steps to a Healthier Life, Aetna’s health assessment and online wellness program that includes self-directed modules such as stress management, smoking cessation, nutrition programs and others. Employers will benefit from employees having access to more effective, holistic care, which can lead to better health outcomes over time.

Healthy Lifestyle Coaching will also be available for members not enrolled in an Aetna plan to support the varied health and wellness needs of an employer’s entire population. For more information about Aetna’s suite of health and wellness services visit: http://www.aetna.com/plans-services-health-insurance/detail/health-wellness-plans/wellness-programs.html

About Aetna

Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 36.1 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities and health care management services for Medicaid plans. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see www.aetna.com.

CIGNA and Humana form Alliance on Retiree Solutions for Employers

CIGNA Corporation (NYSE: CI) and Humana Inc. (NYSE:HUM) have formed an alliance to better serve employers who provide health care benefits for their employees and retirees.

The new alliance will blend CIGNA’s consultative approach and single point of contact for clients with Humana’s industry-leading group Medicare Advantage products and services and strong name recognition. Clients will benefit from a simplified management structure, additional geographic offerings, and a cost-effective solution that addresses the full range of benefit needs for their employees and retirees. Employees will benefit from CIGNA’s health and wellness programs and award-winning quality and service, and retirees will benefit from the scale and breadth of Humana’s Medicare offerings. The alliance will address the needs of employees as they approach retirement by offering a coordinated solution through the employer.

“By bringing together the capabilities of two strong companies, we’re offering market-leading solutions and creating differentiated value for our clients in these uncertain times,” said Sam Srivastava, CIGNA’s president of Government Segments. “Through this alliance, we can expand CIGNA’s portfolio, while Humana is able to expand its distribution to a larger base of employer customers for its Medicare Advantage plans. It’s a winning blend for employers and their retirees who will have access to broad-based, affordable coverage from two companies widely recognized for their service excellence.”

“CIGNA and Humana are driving innovation through this unique alliance,” added Thomas Liston, Humana senior vice president of senior products. ”We are excited that CIGNA will be exclusively supplementing its retiree offerings with Humana’s Medicare Advantage plans, enabling CIGNA to offer a cost-effective, one-stop solution.”

Humana is recognized for its best-in-class Medicare products and services, comprehensive health and wellness solutions and the scale and breadth of its Medicare offerings. CIGNA brings a broad commercial product portfolio, nationally recognized health and wellness programs, and award-winning service to the alliance. The Group Medicare Advantage alliance products are expected to be available beginning July 1, 2010, subject to regulatory approvals. Under the terms of the alliance, CIGNA and Humana will coordinate services and share financial results equally.

According to Srivastava, retirees who opt for an affordable Medicare Advantage plan through the alliance can be confident that it has been carefully tailored to meet their needs and will provide access to clinical programs that can enhance their quality of life and help improve or maintain their health.

CIGNA will continue to independently offer its comprehensive suite of group and individual retiree pharmacy solutions, commercial group medical plans that supplement Medicare, and its Arizona Medicare Advantage HMO health plan, in addition to its full array of commercial medical, dental, pharmacy, disability and behavioral plans.

Humana will continue to independently offer its comprehensive array of commercial and Medicare Advantage health, pharmacy and supplementary benefit plans for employer groups, government programs and individuals.

About CIGNA

CIGNA (NYSE:CI), a global health service company, is dedicated to helping people improve their health, well being and sense of security. CIGNA Corporation’s operating subsidiaries provide an integrated suite of medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, as well as group life, accident and disability insurance, to approximately 46 million people throughout the United States and around the world. To learn more about CIGNA, visit www.cigna.com. To sign up for email alerts or an RSS feed of company news, log on to http://newsroom.cigna.com/rss/. Also, follow us on Twitter: @cignatweets and visit CIGNA’s You Tube channel at http://www.youtube.com/cignatv

About Humana

Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the nation’s largest publicly traded health and supplemental benefits companies, with approximately 10.3 million medical members and 7.2 million specialty members. Humana is a full-service benefits solutions company, offering a wide array of health and supplemental benefit plans for employer groups, government programs and individuals.

Over its 49-year history, Humana has consistently seized opportunities to meet changing customer needs. Today, the company is a leader in consumer engagement, providing guidance that leads to lower costs and a better health plan experience throughout its diversified customer portfolio.

More information regarding Humana is available to investors via the Investor Relations page of the company’s web site at www.humana.com.

UnitedHealth Group Launches Innovative Alliance Providing Free Access to Programs that Help Prevent and Control Diabetes and Obesity

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is launching the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance, a partnership with YMCA of the USA and Walgreens to help prevent and control diabetes, pre-diabetes and obesity.

The Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance is anchored by two innovative and integrated programs including the Diabetes Prevention Program, which is designed to help people at risk for diabetes prevent the disease through healthy eating, increased activity, and other lifestyle changes, and the Diabetes Control Program, which will help people with diabetes better control their condition through education and support from trained pharmacists. UnitedHealth Group will cover these services at no charge to plan participants enrolled in employer-provided health insurance plans, marking the first time in the country that a health plan will pay for evidence-based diabetes prevention and control programs.

Both programs have been tested through controlled trials or pilot projects with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), YMCA of the USA, Indiana University, clinical centers, employers and retail pharmacies. There is substantial evidence that supports early and aggressive intervention to help people avoid the health and financial toll of diabetes.

“We’re privileged to bring together partners from the public, private and non-profit sectors to launch the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance, which reinforces our commitment to stem the rising tide of diabetes and obesity that is already having devastating consequences for individuals, families and our country,” said Stephen Hemsley, president and CEO of UnitedHealth Group. “We are leveraging our national health care resources, the YMCA’s and Walgreens’ presence in local communities, our combined wellness expertise and the experience of two innovative, proven pilot programs to help people make lifestyle changes to prevent or control diabetes.”

UnitedHealth Group is using its national presence and broad assets in technology, health data, evidence-based medical decision-making, disease management and wellness programs to enhance and expand the Diabetes Prevention Program and Diabetes Control Program. Both will employ UnitedHealth Group’s extensive data and advanced analytics to reach out to people with diabetes, as well as those with pre-diabetes, many of whom are unaware that they are at risk for the disease. In addition, individuals may be referred to the program by their doctor or pharmacist.

“It is through innovative partnerships like this one that we can improve progress against an epidemic that threatens both the nation’s health and its resources,” said Ann Albright, PhD, RD, director of CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation. “This proven intervention provides an outstanding opportunity for community-based, health care, and public health communities to substantively work together to prevent type 2 diabetes in people at risk.”

According to the CDC, in 2007 nearly 24 million people in the United States had diabetes, 24 percent of them undiagnosed. Another 57 million people, or 26 percent of the adult population, are considered pre-diabetic, with about 85 percent of them unaware of their condition. The vast majority of people with pre-diabetes are struggling with obesity. Obesity is a cause of many preventable health problems including diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer.

Diabetes Prevention Program: Addressing Obesity to Prevent Diabetes

UnitedHealth Group will partner with YMCA of the USA to offer the Diabetes Prevention Program, which uses a group-based lifestyle intervention designed especially for people at high risk of developing diabetes. In a group setting, a trained lifestyle coach helps participants change their lifestyle by helping people eat healthier and increase their physical activity, and learn about other behavior modifications over the 16-session program. After the initial 16 core sessions, participants meet monthly for added support to help them maintain their progress.

The Diabetes Prevention Program is based on the original U.S. Diabetes Prevention Program, funded by the NIH and CDC, which showed that with lifestyle changes and modest weight reduction, a person with pre-diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of the disease by 58%. Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine were able to replicate the successful results of the National Diabetes Prevention Program in conjunction with the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis in a group setting. The Alliance will now enable the program to expand to many more communities across the nation.

“As part of our charitable heritage, YMCAs are committed to helping those in our communities live longer, stronger and healthier,” said YMCA of the USA President and CEO Neil Nicoll. “UnitedHealth Group’s vision represents a major paradigm shift for health care delivery in our country and YMCAs stand ready to be part of a new health care model that values prevention. We look forward to working with UnitedHealth Group’s Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance to help the millions of Americans at highest risk of developing diabetes – a disease that often robs individuals of their good health and quality of life.”

Diabetes Control Program: Reducing Dangerous, Costly Diabetes Complications

UnitedHealth Group will partner with retail pharmacies, beginning with Walgreens, to offer the Diabetes Control Program, which provides people with diabetes access to local pharmacists trained to help manage their condition and improve adherence to their physicians’ treatment plans. Pharmacists will provide education and behavioral intervention, risk-factor reduction and health promotion, all in the convenient setting of a local pharmacy. The community-based pharmacists’ role in managing diabetes is consistent with NIH and CDC guidelines1 .

“Walgreens is proud to be selected by UnitedHealth Group, alongside YMCA of the USA, to be part of this new program and we look forward to collaborating with such strong and innovative partners,” said Colin Watts, Walgreens Chief Innovation Officer. “For years, Walgreens has been committed to serving the needs of people with diabetes and believes the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance is the right approach for treating one of the most pervasive chronic disease states in the country.”

Incentives for Diabetes Prevention and Control

A key to the programs is UnitedHealth Group’s offering insurance coverage for these services through its health insurance plans. This means millions of employees with diabetes or pre-diabetes will have access to new, convenient ways to help them manage their conditions better. Employers, in turn, will be supporting a healthier, more productive work force, leading to lower health care costs due to fewer doctor and hospital visits.

Results-based incentives will help drive performance. For example, a YMCA lifestyle coach will receive a higher payment for helping an individual achieve greater weight loss, as well as reimbursement for each patient’s participation. Also, advanced health plan swipe-card technology introduced by UnitedHealth Group will enable Walgreens to process payments at the point of service and be paid within 24 hours. The YMCA also will be paid automatically through a paperless system, using an innovative UnitedHealth Group tool.

“For the first time in the U.S., health plans and employers will offer real-time reimbursement to community-based health care providers and pay for services not historically covered,” said Tom Beauregard, executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group. “The pilot data showed that paying for these services works – people get and stay healthier, leading to dramatically lower health care costs for employers and the health care system.”

Diabetes and its complications cost the United States an estimated $174 billion in 2007, according to the CDC.

Alliance Roll-Out and National Expansion

Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance programs will be available initially in six markets in four states: Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Indianapolis; Phoenix, and in Minneapolis-St. Paul for participants in self-insured employer-provided health plans purchased from Medica. The programs will roll out nationally through 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The programs will be available to self-insured health plan customers and their family members with diabetes or pre-diabetes.* Plan participants whose employers offer the programs and who are identified with diabetes or pre-diabetes through UnitedHealth Group’s sophisticated screening model (based on historical claims analysis and biometric screening) will be invited to participate voluntarily in the appropriate Alliance program. UnitedHealth Group also is rolling out the programs to fully-insured customers in 2010 launch markets and considering future expansion to fully-insured customers in other markets. UnitedHealth Group employees also will have access to the programs as they roll out.

In addition, UnitedHealth Group has entered into an agreement with Minnesota-based health insurer Medica to offer the programs to a wide range of the company’s employer-sponsored plans in Minnesota. The programs will be available to other insurance companies and employers as well.

The Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance is one of many UnitedHealth Group programs and services that fight diabetes, obesity and related health problems in creative, practical ways to help improve health care quality, expand support and coverage, and help bend the cost curve.

Click here for more resources. To hear a presentation on the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance by Deneen Vojta, MD, Senior Vice President of the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform and Modernization, at the CDC’s Diabetes Translation Conference, go to preventtype2diabetes.nologyinteractive.com.

About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group (www.unitedhealthgroup.com) is a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making health care work better. With headquarters in Minnetonka, Minn., UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of health benefit programs through UnitedHealthcare, Ovations and AmeriChoice, and health services through Ingenix, OptumHealth and Prescription Solutions. Through its family of businesses, UnitedHealth Group serves 70 million people nationwide.

1 Team Care Comprehensive Lifetime Management for Diabetes, by The National Diabetes Education Program, a joint program of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2001
* Self-insured plans generally are used only by larger employers, with claims administered by an insurance company. In these programs, the employer funds covered health care costs for participating employees and family members.

Assurant Employee Benefits Introduces Industry-First Smartphone Application

Finding a dentist has never been easier, thanks to Assurant Employee Benefits’ new smartphone application Assurant Benefit Tools. The application, now available for iPhone® and Android™ and launching soon for BlackBerry®, consists of Find-a-Dentist, which uses GoogleMaps technology to connect smartphone users with dentists in proximity to their location. According to the company,  Assurant Employee Benefits is currently the only insurance benefits carrier offering smartphone technology in this way.

The Find-a-Dentist application is an extension of a similar online tool available to Assurant Employee Benefits customers. As programmers began to develop smartphone applications outside of work, Todd Rever, vice president, professional services, saw the opportunity to leverage emerging technology on the job to benefit consumers. A team was put together to think through the best use of smartphone technology, and the new application was born.

“We always look for ways to keep our products and communications relevant to our customers and sales force, and the way they use technology is always changing,” says Rever. “It’s very gratifying to be able to provide an industry-first tool that will help Assurant Employee Benefits connect in a new and meaningful way.”

The new application also provides updates on company news and Twitter feeds. Additional tools and enhancements will continue to be rolled out under Assurant Benefit Tools. The application is a free download available to all smartphone users.

About Assurant Employee Benefits

Assurant Employee Benefits specializes in quality employee benefits and services, including long-term and short-term disability, life insurance, voluntary benefits such as cancer, critical illness and accident, dental coverage, and disability reinsurance management services. Assurant Employee Benefits is the brand name for insurance products underwritten by Union Security Insurance Company and for prepaid dental products provided by an affiliated prepaid dental company. In New York, insurance products are underwritten and prepaid products are provided by Union Security Life Insurance Company of New York, which is licensed in New York and has its principal place of business in Syracuse, New York. Plans contain limitations, exclusions and restrictions. www.assurantemployeebenefits.com

Assurant Employee Benefits is a part of Assurant, a premier provider of specialized insurance products and related services in North America and select worldwide markets. Its four key businesses — Assurant Solutions, Assurant Specialty Property, Assurant Health, and Assurant Employee Benefits — partner with clients who are leaders in their industries and have built leadership positions in a number of specialty insurance market segments worldwide.

Assurant, a Fortune 500 company and a member of the S&P 500, is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AIZ. www.assurant.com

SOURCE Assurant Employee Benefits

Health Alliance Medical Plans Selects Treatment Cost Calculator from Thomson Reuters to Help Its Members Make Well-Informed Healthcare Decisions

Health Alliance Medical Plans, a provider-sponsored health insurer in the Midwest, has licensed Thomson Reuters Treatment Cost Calculator, an application that tells health plan members how much they will pay out-of-pocket for upcoming healthcare services.

The Treatment Cost Calculator generates cost estimates based on a health plan’s claims data at the provider level, so the estimates reflect plan payments to providers. These treatment estimates are then personalized for the member using real-time benefit information in order to provide relevant, accurate information.

With this information, health plan members understand their expected costs and how these costs vary by provider, a key consideration in their healthcare decision-making.

“Consumer-driven healthcare translates into consumer need for information,” said MaryAnn Tournoux, vice president of sales and marketing for Health Alliance. “This solution will help our members better understand their benefits and estimate their costs before receiving healthcare to avoid surprises and engage people in fully understanding their options.”

“Healthcare consumers need accurate, detailed information specific to their financial and medical circumstances,” said David Crean, senior vice president for the Healthcare & Science business of Thomson Reuters. “Health Alliance is providing that information to its members and supporting a growing market need for reliable information at the provider level. We’re honored to be a part of this solution.”

The Treatment Cost Calculator is part of Consumer Advantage™, a suite of online solutions from Thomson Reuters. For more information:  http://thomsonreuters.com/products_services/healthcare/healthcare_products/health_plans/consumer_decision_supp/.

About Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters is the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. We combine industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision makers in the financial, legal, tax and accounting, healthcare and science and media markets, powered by the world’s most trusted news organization. With headquarters in New York and major operations in London and Eagan, Minnesota, Thomson Reuters employs more than 50,000 people and operates in over 100 countries. Thomson Reuters shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: TRI.toNews) and New York Stock Exchange ( TRINews). For more information, go to http://thomsonreuters.com/.

About Health Alliance Medical Plans

Health Alliance Medical Plans is a leading provider-sponsored health insurer in the Midwest, administering health plans more than 310,000 members in Illinois and Iowa. Health Alliance is one of ‘America’s Best Health Plans’ and named the top plan in Illinois in the most recent U.S. News and World Report and National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) rankings of commercial and Medicare health plans. Additionally, because of an exceptional commitment to quality, Health Alliance has maintained the highest accreditation possible from NCQA for its HMO, POS and Medicare HMO plans since 1997.

SOURCE Thomson Reuters

Independence Blue Cross Answers Need for University Student Health Coverage

Beginning this fall, colleges in southeastern Pennsylvania will have more choices available to offer their students quality, affordable, comprehensive health care coverage with the launch of the Independence Blue Cross Student PPO plan.

“We are very excited about our ability to offer this new Student PPO plan,” says Daniel Hilferty, president of health markets for Independence Blue Cross. “More than three-quarters of the universities in southeastern Pennsylvania offer our health coverage to their staff and faculty and we are proud to be able to extend our Blue-branded capabilities to their students,” he adds. “We are eager to further broaden our reach with colleges, to help students stay well and focused on fit and healthy lifestyles. We already support many of the universities in the area in various ways, and this is one more way we can lend a hand in strengthening the health of our community.”

“Universities and colleges across the Philadelphia region have been driving the demand for this new type of PPO,” says Linda Taylor, chief marketing executive of Independence Blue Cross. “We listened. And we are pleased to respond to the requests of college officials and parents of students, by offering a solution at competitive rates in time for the coming school year; to be available to students arriving on campuses in August 2010.”

Taylor explains that in their young adulthood, college students have several options for health coverage, and with health care reform, could have coverage through age 26 under their parents’ plans, although a student PPO plan may be among the most affordable options. She adds that because there are unique needs within a student population, the IBC Student PPO offers services designed specifically for student lifestyles, which are typically ‘on the go.’

“Some of the features of the IBC Student PPO that colleges find attractive are the 24/7 nurse helpline, an exclusive student health website, discounts for healthy living, and proactive, coordinated case management for students with complex conditions,” Taylor says. She explained that this innovative health program can be provided to students in combination with comprehensive pharmacy benefits, coverage for preventive services, physical and occupational therapy, and maternity care.

“This plan is very marketable for the colleges with whom we partner,” says Dixon Gillis, president of A-G Administrators, collegiate insurance specialists in Valley Forge. “IBC’s new offering will have a great impact on college students and the health plan decision administrators. University decision-makers are asking for a student product with the Blue network, which reaches coast to coast and around the world, to offer their students.”

Gillis adds that most colleges will build a health care plan like this into their student tuition fees, making it a benefit that students and their parents can simply opt out of if they have other coverage. “IBC’s Student PPO plan will be popular for students, their parents, and the health centers by increasing efficiencies of accessing care and the comfort of knowing they have Blue coverage. The plan makes health care services convenient for them to use, with no referrals to see a specialist and a network that is with them wherever they are. I applaud the IBC leadership team for rolling up their sleeves and getting this product to market,” he says.

“I work with college personnel from every level that collectively make the decision on what student plan design their institution will sponsor. I believe many of these school officials are going to be excited to offer a Blue-branded health plan to their students, at both undergraduate and graduate levels in the five-county area,” says Joseph Strode, president of T.L. Groseclose Associates, Inc. a student health insurance consultant in Skillman, New Jersey. “IBC’s brand is so well recognized in the Philadelphia region. Since many families already trust it, they will have peace of mind sending their student off with a health plan they can count on.”

Strode adds that the broad Blue network regionally, across the U.S., and around the globe, is especially attractive to students who spend most of the year on campus, but may choose to go summer back-packing in Europe, enjoy spring break in Mexico, or fly home to the west coast for breaks. “The flexibility IBC is offering for student plans will likely be a hit with many of my clients since what is important to one school is not necessarily what is important to all,” Strode says. “Schools will appreciate the ability to customize the plan to their unique needs.”

“IBC’s timely entrance into the student medical arena in Pennsylvania offers our client schools a unique opportunity to tap into the broadest and deepest physician and hospital network available,” says Rich Seufer, vice president of Collegiate Insurance Resources, of Collegeville. He says he thinks this will be the biggest selling point for universities who want to offer a new plan to their students for the coming school year.

While at college, students can take advantage of IBC’s regional PPO network including 55,000 doctors, 100 hospital systems, and coordination with their student health center, giving them access to convenient primary care right on their campus. Away from school, students can make use of in-network coverage across the U.S., through the BlueCard® PPO network of more than 676,000 doctors and 5,500 hospitals. Internationally, BlueCard Worldwide® offers access to care around the globe, as well as emergency travel services.

Students will be able to manage their health care through a secure and convenient website. Whether they are checking for covered services or looking for a doctor, students simply login to their own personal account that is available 24/7 through their university’s website. Via the web, they can access eligibility information and benefits summaries, view claims and Explanations of Benefits, or print temporary ID cards. They can use IBC’s health tools to find providers wherever they are, research health issues through an online health encyclopedia, estimate treatment costs, compare hospital and doctor quality grades, and review global health and safety resources.

Universities can find more information about the IBC Student PPO at www.ibx.com/student or through an Independence Blue Cross account executive. Interested students and their parents will want to contact their college’s student health director or bursar’s office to ask about the coverage that will be offered to enrolled students for the coming year.

About Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. Nationwide, Independence Blue Cross and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.3 million people. For more than 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross’s HMO and PPO health care plans have consistently received the highest ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Consumer Engagement Improves Radiology Outcomes

More consumers than ever before are seeking additional knowledge to make more informed decisions, especially when it comes to their health care.

To help members lower their out-of-pocket costs and enhance the quality of their care through informed decision-making, HealthAmerica has partnered with National Imaging Associates (NIA) to provide an innovative consumer engagement program for diagnostic imaging services.

“By educating our members on their benefits and providing information on advanced medical imaging procedures, we enable them to take an active role in their health care,” said David P. Crosby, president of HealthAmerica.

This carries added significance in the field of diagnostic imaging, especially given concerns about radiation safety, clinically inappropriate examinations, and rising health care costs. HealthAmerica and NIA representatives pointed to multiple independent studies that found as many as one-third of all advanced imaging services are either clinically inappropriate or do not contribute to a physician’s diagnosis or the ultimate health outcomes for the patient.

“When consumers are engaged in the imaging process, they make more informed decisions about their care, and this improves outcomes, affordability, and consumer satisfaction,” said Tina Blasi, CEO of NIA, a Magellan Health Services company (Nasdaq: MGLN). “Our commitment to transparency, education, patient safety, and patient choice is at the very heart of our company’s philosophy.”

The services from HealthAmerica and NIA include a Facility Selection Support program that assists members with the selection of a quality imaging facility for their examinations, based on such convenience factors as location, proximity to public transportation, and the availability of evening and weekend appointments. NIA also can assist in identifying if there are any cost differences for the individual member and can provide patients with support in scheduling the image exams, as needed.

“Like most businesses, our employees pay an increasing share of their health care costs,” said Greg Drake, senior manager of Facilities and Purchasing for Isaac’s Deli Inc. “It’s important that we provide them with tools they can use to make sure they are using their health care benefits wisely. HealthAmerica’s imaging program provides a greater level of transparency on radiology services for my employees who are eager to get more involved in health care decisions.”

Additional NIA tools to support consumer engagement will be provided to HealthAmerica members later this year. This includes the launch of NIA’s new online consumer portal, which guides members through the imaging decision process, explain radiation safety considerations, and offer expanded information on imaging facility options. These resources, featuring age-specific content for adults and children, are designed to help members better understand their imaging procedures, engage in dialogue and shared decision-making with their physicians, and make knowledgeable decisions about their health care.

“Quality, cost, and convenience are becoming increasingly important to our patients,” said Paul DeLoia Jr., chief executive officer of Tristán Associates. “HealthAmerica’s radiology benefit management program supports our providing high quality imaging services with maximum safety and convenience to our patients. In addition, the program helps provide our patients with greater visibility on their out-of-pocket expenditures when visiting one of our sites.”

As Blasi said, it comes down to supporting the consumers in safeguarding the quality and cost of their health care.

“Consumers who become engaged in the health care process are active participants in ensuring that they receive the right medical scan, in the right place, at the right time,” Blasi said. “This is the right thing to do for those we serve, and it is bringing a new level of empowerment and transparency to the health care experience.”

About HealthAmerica

Listed among the country’s top 20 health plans in the U.S.News/NCQA America’s Best Health Insurance Plans 2009-10 list, HealthAmerica has been offering health benefits in Pennsylvania for over 34 years. The company provides a range of health insurance products, including consumer-directed, self-funded, Medicare, Medicaid, indemnity, nongroup, and pharmacy plans. It currently has “Excellent” accreditation by the National Committee for Quality Assurance for its commercial HMO, POS, and Medicare plans. It has corporate offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For more information, visit HealthAmerica’s website at www.healthamerica.cvty.com.

About NIA

Headquartered in Avon, Conn., NIA (National Imaging Associates) leads the radiology benefits management industry by delivering innovative solutions to effectively manage the cost and quality of diagnostic imaging. NIA is a subsidiary of Magellan Health Services, Inc. (Nasdaq:MGLN), a leading specialty health care management organization. For more information about NIA, visit www.NIAhealthcare.com.

Humana’s Member Communications Score “Excellent” for Clarity, Content and Design

Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) recently received accolades from DALBAR, a third-party evaluator in the financial-services industry, for being one of few innovative health insurers to “buck the tradition of incomprehensible customer communications.”

DALBAR analyzed the usefulness of insurers’ Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) statements, which insurers send to customers explaining how their medical claims are processed. Out of 34 leading insurers, including the federal government’s Medicare program, 68 percent of the documents received a failing score.

Humana was one of only three insurers to receive the designation of “excellent” for the clarity, content and design of its “Smart EOB.” Humana also received special “best-in-class” recognition for its personalized member messaging, and high marks for including charts and graphics to help people understand how their benefits work, draw conclusions, and take appropriate action.

“Humana’s EOB is a leader in personalized messaging and visual creativity,” said Kathleen Whalen, managing director at DALBAR. “The company has gone above and beyond the required content to offer health tips, coupons and other imaginatively designed educational tools based on patient diagnosis, gender and age. The features are clearly designed to positively influence their members’ lives and help them manage their health.”

“We value each interaction with our members and take pride in ongoing efforts to improve each touchpoint – working to improve health literacy and member understanding,” said Bruce J. Goodman, Humana’s chief service and information officer. “Our EOBs and statements are an important part of transparency to customers, so they can understand the total cost of health care. Humana’s traditional EOB has evolved, based on the needs of our members, into a health-management tool, the Smart EOB. These are also offered electronically to our members at Humana.com,” Goodman said.

About DALBAR, Inc.

DALBAR, Inc. has been a leading third-party evaluator in the financial-services industry since 1976. With offices in the U.S., Canada and London, DALBAR develops standards for – and provides research, ratings and rankings of – the many factors that influence a company’s overall customer-service experience. Such factors include print communications, public Web sites and proprietary portals, interactive voice response units, call centers, and financial-adviser services.

In 2009, DALBAR launched its Healthcare Practices Division that has focused on establishing Standards of Excellence for the Explanation of Benefits document. This unit’s future endeavors will also target industry Web sites and other customer touch points.

About Humana

Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Ky., is one of the nation’s largest publicly traded health and supplemental benefits companies, with approximately 10.3 million medical members and approximately 7.2 million specialty-benefit members.