Humana Advances Its Mobile Experience for Members

Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) announced today new features and applications that expand the mobile experience, including a doctor and hospital search tool, claims summary, text messaging, and health-related games. Humana members can instantly receive information from the company via text messages and access a list of in-network health care providers on most mobile phones.

The health-care-provider search tool helps members and non-members find doctor and hospital information right from their mobile phone, and can even guide them there using the phone’s existing GPS and location awareness. Members can instantly access their claims history and review current claims status. Members can also sign up for a text-messaging service that will allow them to track their spending-account balances, transactions and qualifying expenses. This service will also send health and wellness alerts to members, such as flu-shot reminders.

These new free offerings further enhance the mobile capabilities for Humana members and continue to move Humana ahead in the mobile space.

“I installed the Humana application on my Droid and find it very easy to use,” said Humana member Michelle Goetzke of Milwaukee, Wisc. “Having the Urgent Care Center Finder is great.”

“This new set of mobile resources for our members establishes Humana as a frontrunner in this emerging space,” said Bruce J. Goodman, Humana’s chief service and information officer. “We’re committed to meeting members’ needs by providing them with on-the-go guidance – anytime, anywhere.”

Humana’s robust mobile suite has also been noted by industry experts. “Of all health insurance carriers, Humana is by far the most innovative player in the mobile space,” said Celent Senior Analyst, Red Gillen.

Humana’s Recently Released Mobile Applications

Starting in January 2010, Humana began launching a suite of mobile resources utilizing SMS/text, Mobile Web, and iPhone and Android applications to help people find urgent care centers, track their health care spending-account balances and get instant access to information on their member identification cards. Thousands of members have used these services to date. Health entertainment iPhone apps were a recent addition to the growing mobile portfolio. Members and non-members can buy these iPhone applications developed by Humana that give consumers fun ways to exercise their brains and bodies.

In coming months, new mobile resources will be launched to further enhance consumers’ mobile experiences. For more information, please connect to the following demo link that offers insight into Humana’s new mobile services: http://media.humana.com/mobileDemo%20small.wmv

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 approximately 7.3 million specialty-benefit members. Humana is a full-service benefits-solutions company, offering a wide array of health and supplementary 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.

Leading Kansas City Companies Address Health Care Reform For Small Businesses

Two Kansas City-based companies, H&R Block and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, have joined forces to provide a convenient, comprehensive tool to help small business owners understand the financial impact of health care reform.

The small business tax credit calculator is available through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and can be accessed by visiting www.BlueKCtaxcredit.com.  The calculator and tax content were developed by The Tax Institute at H&R Block and also may be viewed by visiting www.thetaxinstitute.com.

The calculator will help users understand the following elements of reform as they become effective:

“This tool, in combination with our BlueChoice® defined contribution product, provides a strong incentive for small businesses to continue to provide insurance.  A small employer’s tax credit can be combined with our BlueChoice plan to help employers control what they spend on employee health insurance for even greater savings.  We began promoting the small business tax credit in April, right after the reform bill passed.  Our advertising campaign around the small business tax credit and calculator contributed to an additional 5,000 new members covered in 227 new employer groups – of which 28 percent were previously uninsured,” said Tom Bowser, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and chairman of the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association board of directors.

“Taxes are no longer something we just think about in April,” said Amy McAnarney, H&R Block’s president for the Central United States.  “Taxes are at the intersection of people’s daily lives with paychecks, investments, buying a home and now, health care.  This tool helps small businesses budget and forecast for the resulting tax implications.”

To use the tax calculator, small business owners answer questions about their employees and insurance coverage, including the number of employees, payroll and wages, and the insurance premiums the company expects to pay.  The calculator then generates an overview of the company’s health care costs and whether, beginning in 2014, the company will be required to offer health insurance to employees.  In addition, the calculator provides information regarding employer penalties for not providing coverage, along with details on the excise tax that could be assessed on high-cost health plans beginning in 2018.

“The tax credit website and tax calculator, developed by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and H&R Block, provide a simple, convenient way for small businesses to determine if they are eligible to receive a tax credit to help offset health insurance costs,” said Mike Bukaty, president of Bukaty Companies, a Leawood, Kan., employee benefits and insurance consulting firm.  “We have introduced these resources to our small business clients, and the response has been very favorable.”

BlueChoice is a defined contribution product that allows small business owners to choose how much they want to contribute to employees’ health insurance premium costs and employees get to put that money toward the health plan offered that best meets their needs.  BlueChoice lets employees choose between five to six different plans for themselves and their families.  The product is an integral part of our ChamberChoice program with the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, the largest not-for-profit health insurer in Missouri and the only not-for-profit health insurer in Kansas City, has been part of the Kansas City community since 1938.  BCBSKC provides health coverage and wellness related products and services to one million residents in the greater Kansas City area and Northwest Missouri.  Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.  Our mission: To use our role as the leading health insurer to improve the health in the communities we serve.  For more information on the company, visit our Web site at www.BlueKC.com.

About The Tax Institute at H&R Block
The Tax Institute at H&R Block is the go-to source for objective insights on federal and state tax laws affecting the individual.  It provides nonpartisan information and analysis on the real world implications of tax policies and proposals to policymakers, journalists, experts and tax preparers.  The Institute’s experts include CPAs, Enrolled Agents, attorneys and former IRS agents who draw from years of experience and H&R Block’s extensive network of resources.  For more information visit our press center at http://thetaxinstitute.com.

About H&R Block
H&R Block Inc. (NYSE: HRB) is one of the world’s largest tax services providers, having prepared more than 550 million tax returns worldwide since 1955.  In fiscal 2010, H&R Block had annual revenues of $3.9 billion and prepared more than 23 million tax returns worldwide, utilizing more than 100,000 highly trained tax professionals.  The Company provides tax return preparation services in person, through H&R Block At Home™ online and desktop software products, and through other channels.  The Company is also one of the leading providers of business services through RSM McGladrey.  For more information, visit our Online Press Center.

H&R Block does not offer Blue Cross and Blue Shield products or services.  H&R Block and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City are not affiliated companies.

CaliforniaChoice Becomes First Health Insurance Exchange in America to Reach 20 Million Member Plateau

CaliforniaChoice® announced today that it has become the first health insurance exchange in the nation to reach the 20 million member-month plateau, solidifying its position as the country’s most successful health insurance exchange for small and mid-size employers.

Founded in 1996, CaliforniaChoice is a product of CHOICE Administrators®, the nation’s leader in developing and administering health insurance exchanges.

Health insurance exchanges promote choice and make health insurance purchasing more value-based by allowing an individual or small business to compare the costs and benefits of various health plans and benefit options. With such information in hand, purchasers are able to do a better job selecting a health plan that best fits their needs and budget.

A key part of the recently passed healthcare reform legislation mandates that every state establish a health insurance exchange by January 1, 2014.

Member months reflect how long an individual has been a member of the exchange and are a vital metric for measuring an exchange’s ability to retain members over an extended period of time. The 20 million member-month milestone is particularly significant given that similarly structured state-run small-group exchanges have either failed or are still feeling their way, especially in serving the group market.

“If done properly – as the privately run CaliforniaChoice has shown it can be – exchanges have the capacity to help us move to a more rational method of purchasing health coverage while getting society closer to achieving the noble goal of universal coverage for all its citizens,” said Ron Goldstein, president of CHOICE Administrators.

Key to the success of an exchange is an integrated and seamless network of strong health plans and decision support tools that bring to the purchaser a wide choice of products at different price points and benefit levels. Participating in CaliforniaChoice are Anthem Blue Cross; Health Net; Kaiser Permanente; Sharp Health Plan; Western Health Advantage; and numerous leading dental, vision, chiropractic and related ancillary benefit plans.

Under the new legislation taking effect January 1, 2014, exchanges must be made available for both individual and family plans (IFP) and small groups with possibly up to 100 employees. Each of the health plans offered in an exchange will include an essential set of benefits that provide comprehensive healthcare services with different levels of cost sharing. Annual out-of-pocket expenses for individuals will be limited to an amount equal to the Health Savings Account current law limit. Multiple benefit categories will exist so purchasers can choose the one that best meets their needs and pocketbook. Individuals who cannot afford to purchase a plan in an exchange may be eligible for a subsidy from the government based on income and family size.

“In many ways the exchange is like a giant, online health shopping mall filled with an assortment of carriers offering their products at various price points and benefits,” said Goldstein. “The CaliforniaChoice model has witnessed unprecedented success, and it’s not a stretch to call it a model for how exchanges should be established and administered under the new regulations.” CHOICE Administrators® Exchanges is the nation’s leader in developing and administering health insurance exchanges.

About CHOICE Administrators®:

Currently serving more than 10,500 employers and more than 180,000 members, CHOICE Administrators® is a member of The Word & Brown Companies, the nation’s leading developer and administrator of consumer choice exchange models. Among the products currently operated by CHOICE Administrators® are the CaliforniaChoice® small group (2-50 employees) and mid-market (51- 199 employees) private exchanges and Quotit, one of the nation’s largest individual/family proposal and online enrollment systems that generated 2.5 million individual health quotes nationally in 2009. Further information may be obtained at www.choiceadmin.com.

S.C. BlueChoice HealthPlan Addresses Diverse Population’s Differing Health Needs

Addressing national studies showing that racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities affect health care outcomes, BlueChoice HealthPlan of South Carolina has concentrated efforts to adapt to the needs of South Carolina’s diverse populations.

The National Healthcare Disparities Report (http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/nhdr08/nhdr08.pdf) by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, clearly demonstrated that these disparities have an impact on health care at all points in the process, at all sites of care, and for all medical conditions. Other groups, such as the Kaiser Family Foundation, also have reported disparities.

BlueChoice HealthPlan, whose South Carolina members are diverse in age, race, ethnicity, income level, geography (rural vs. urban) and gender, recognizes that these differences contribute to how individuals view their health, what their health care needs are, and what they need from their health plans.

“In the past, sometimes it was more socially acceptable not to focus on differences. But we know that certain health conditions disproportionately affect certain segments of the population,” said BlueChoice HealthPlan Vice President of Health Services Rolanda Aiken, RN, MPH. “We need to talk about differences as they relate to health, so people learn what they need to know and do what they need to do to prevent problems.”

Recognizing this, BlueChoice HealthPlan has modified educational materials for specific populations, hired staff to specialize in these populations, and sent staff into the community to reach out to these populations.

Health and disease management program educational materials are available in English and Spanish and tailored in content to an ethnically diverse audience. For example, BlueChoice HealthPlan produced cookbooks on how to adapt less healthy ethnic favorites, and brochures addressing the unique risk factors for certain conditions in some minority groups.

Educational materials represent both genders of varying ages and are available in a range of reading levels. Additionally, the health specialists who educate members by phone are ethnically diverse and range in age from 25 to 75.

In the community, BlueChoice HealthPlan was a major sponsor of the first Rural Health Conference, held in Orangeburg, S.C., last year, and is helping to plan the next one scheduled for September 2010. The health and disease management staff volunteer at community events, such as the Healthy Hoops asthma program held at sites statewide, South Carolina Conference on Diabetes (formerly known as the African American Conference on Diabetes), and health fairs and disease screenings at venues that attract diverse populations.

These experienced clinicians also are partnering with state and national organizations to train other clinical and community educators to provide culturally competent care to diverse and multicultural populations.


About BlueChoice HealthPlan of South Carolina
:
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., BlueChoice HealthPlan of South Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BlueChoice HealthPlan has an A+ rating from A.M. Best and an Excellent accreditation status, the highest level awarded, from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). BlueChoice HealthPlan offers four categories of group health plans, as well as individual plans for children and young adults, and a South Carolina Medicaid product

Blue Cross & Blue Shield’s Online Social Network Supports Member Discussions on Health and Wellness Topics

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) this week announced that is has launched a safe and secure online social forum, My Blue CommunitySM, for members to interact with other Blue Cross & Blue Shield members from around the nation on health and wellness-related topics such as allergies and asthma, cold and flu, diabetes, addiction, cancer and dental.  Members not only get guidance from experts such as chefs, trainers and health coaches, they can interact with one another, exchange information, share experiences, and offer advice to individuals who can relate to a similar situation or challenge. 

“A recent study from the Yale School of Public Health suggests that women who have had a heart attack can be susceptible to depression and other health challenges without the appropriate social support1,” said Jim Gallagher, BCBSRI assistant vice president of strategic marketing and product innovation.  “My Blue Community is designed to be an extension of the support one may receive from providers or family members and can have a positive effect on health outcomes.”

In one recent discussion, a member, who recently lost 60 pounds and plans to lose 100 more, inquired about strategies to fight the constant need to chew.  Other members offered suggestions from eating a handful of sunflower seeds to chewing gum to eating ice.  Additionally, a health coach made suggestions like taking small packages of vegetables to drinking the recommended daily water intake.   The member who posted the question commented favorably on the suggestions and thanked the others in support of his “food addiction.”

When BCBSRI asked My Blue Community members to comment on why they like the site, one user said:  “Thanks for the opportunity to share, which is the best thing about the site.  I feel connected to those people that might be sharing the same thoughts.  Feeling scared, frustrated or just want to share an experience – this is the place.  It’s a safe environment to seek advice, share a recipe or talk about health issues.  I feel these peers are in it with me and that they are trustworthy.”

My Blue Community currently has more than 50,000 health-related discussions already under way and about 25,000 members across the nation.  The new online network can be accessed from www.BCBSRI.com.

About Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island:

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is the state’s leading health insurer and covers more than 600,000 members. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Highmark Launches iPhone Application to Help Members get Health and Wellness Information on the Go

Millions of Highmark members can now access valuable health and wellness information through the free Highmark Health@Hand iPhone® application.

The Health@Hand iPhone app gives members access to health and wellness features at their fingertips. Since the iPhone is equipped to know exactly where someone is, Highmark members can quickly find nearby participating Highmark medical facilities and health care providers such as hospitals, urgent care facilities, retail clinics and pharmacies. The app also provides interactive health information that allows members to look up information about illnesses, symptoms and medical conditions. A health and wellness section of the app offers health coaching tips and information about health and wellness programs available to Highmark members.

“Mobile phone applications open up an entirely new channel for interaction with our members. It makes health care and wellness information more portable and accessible,” said Matthew Childs, Highmark Web Strategy and Development vice president. “We chose to focus our app on health and wellness because Highmark has a long-standing commitment to helping our members ‘have a greater hand in their health.'”

The Highmark Health@Hand iPhone application is available to Highmark members. Members should log in to their specific Highmark member website, visit the “Choose Providers” tab, obtain the registration code and then link to Apple iTunes to download the application. The app will also be available directly in the Apple iTunes library, but will ask that users go to the Highmark website to receive the registration code.

Highmark partnered with A.D.A.M., an online information and technology vendor, to create the application. Highmark chose to make its health care feature available on the iPhone because it is one of the fast-growing mobile devices.

Access to a growing number of health and wellness discounts are also available through the Highmark Health@Hand iPhone app as well as on Highmark’s member websites. Last month, Highmark launched additional member discounts for a variety of national travel, nutrition, fitness, vision, hearing and complementary programs and services from companies such as Reebok, Jenny Craig, LasikPlus, Fairmont, Westin and more.

Highmark members can access the member discounts by logging into their specific Highmark member website and visiting the “Choose Providers” tab.

“We recognize that achieving good health isn’t all about health care. It’s about taking care of yourself as well,” said Childs. “These national discount partners give our members discounts of up to 50 percent on products and services that can keep them healthy and well.”

About Highmark
As one of the leading health insurers in Pennsylvania, Highmark Inc.’s mission is to provide access to affordable, quality health care enabling individuals to live longer, healthier lives. Based in Pittsburgh, Highmark serves 4.7 million people through the company’s health care benefits business. Highmark contributes millions of dollars to help keep quality health care programs affordable and to support community-based programs that work to improve people’s health. Highmark exerts an enormous economic impact throughout Pennsylvania. A recent study states that Highmark’s positive impact exceeded $2.5 billion. The company provides the resources to give its members a greater hand in their health.

University of Florida Physicians and Shands HealthCare Join Innovative Network for CDHP Plans As Averde’s Expansion Across Florida Continues

Averde Health continues their rapid expansion across Florida with the addition of University of Florida Physicians and Shands HealthCare in Jacksonville and Gainesville to its provider network.

UF Physicians includes more than 80 physician practices located throughout north central and northeast Florida staffed by UF faculty physicians. The Shands HealthCare system is comprised of two academic health centers, Shands at the University of Florida (Gainesville) and Shands Jacksonville (Jacksonville); a behavioral-health hospital, Shands Vista; a rehabilitation hospital, Shands Rehab hospital; and three community hospitals operated through a joint venture. Each year, the UF and Shands academic health system is a health resource for Florida, serving patients from every county in the state.

UF Physicians and Shands HealthCare are the latest healthcare providers in Florida to join Averde Health in their revolutionary approach to the next generation of Consumer Directed Health Plans (CDHPs). Jacksonville joins South Florida and Tampa Bay as recent markets where Averde has signed contracts with major hospitals and expanded their Guaranteed Payment Network for individuals and groups.

Averde’s Guaranteed Payment Network works exclusively with CDHP’s for individuals, small groups, and self-insured employers, which is a growing market segment – particularly in the Southeast1. These plans can cut premiums by a significant amount but can bring hardship to consumers, doctors and hospitals when it’s time to pay for and collect medical expenses.

Averde Health improves providers’ cash flow by paying both the plan and the patient liability fully and quickly, thus eliminating any collections costs. “When physicians bear the increasing cost of patient collections, they are discounting their services for large carriers even further than they intend. With Averde, our contracts equal cash. What we negotiate is what we pay.” declares Averde’s CEO Tom Policelli. Here’s how Averde’s plan works: When a clean claim is submitted within 60 days of service, Averde will pay one hundred percent of the contracted amount (net of office visit copays) within 30 days. An added benefit is a reduction in lost office visits from patients who may be embarrassed by unpaid medical bills. After paying the provider, Averde collects from members directly and can offer flexible repayment terms including manageable payment plans through payroll deductions.

Averde founder and CEO, Tom Policelli, explains, “Our objective is to completely change the way health care is paid for and to make it easy for consumers to access, understand and pay for their medical care.” On the rapid statewide expansion Policelli remarked, “Recent trends make Florida a key market for us. Employers and consumers will benefit from increased competition in the state and our product provides great value to both.”

About Averde Health

Averde Health was founded by visionary health insurance executives who recognized the need for a better health care model that puts them in partnership with doctors and hospitals while allowing patients a simple way to manage their health care expenses. By solving problems for health care providers, Averde drives administrative costs out of the system, and helps hold down costs.

Capital BlueCross Launches Program Allowing Members to Evaluate Total Cost, Quality of Care for Specific Procedures at Various Facilities

Capital BlueCross continued its commitment to educating and engaging members about health care decision making by launching MyCare Advisor (SM), which is an online suite of transparency tools that assists people in understanding and comparing cost, quality and satisfaction among providers. More specifically, this enhancement to existing tools provides estimated total cost information for 57 of the most common elective services at hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and imaging centers.

MyCare Advisor is simple to access and use. Members just need to log into the secure member portal at mycapbluecross.com, click on the MyCare Advisor link, choose a procedure category and select a ZIP code.  Once this is completed, all of the facilities that meet certain criteria for the selected procedure will be displayed for review and comparison.

Information available to members will include cost ranges; the name and contact information for each facility; the network the facility is participating in; whether or not the facility has a Blue Distinction Center of Excellence designation; and the number of procedures performed annually at each facility. The cost estimate information is derived from Capital BlueCross’ claims data. By January the tool will provide information both locally and nationally.

“With the current health care climate, more and more people are taking ownership in the decision-making process for their own treatments and procedures, and we want to help them with this process,” said Bill Lehr, president and CEO of Capital BlueCross. “Most people comparison shop for anything from groceries to a new car, but most don’t realize that for routine procedures, like MRIs, X-rays or mammograms, there can be a wide variance in costs.  Knowing there is a difference is the first step in becoming an engaged health care consumer.”

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 groups and individuals at competitive prices. Capital BlueCross received a high honor for its service by ranking highest in Member Satisfaction among all commercial health plans in the Pennsylvania Region, according to the 2010 J.D. Power and Associates National Health Insurance Plan Study. J.D. Power and Associates

By establishing a culture of caring, Capital BlueCross constantly strives to do more in order to deliver more for the men, women and children who depend on the company for their health insurance needs. Capital BlueCross 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.

Headquartered in Harrisburg, Pa., 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