Humana and CVS Announce Strategic Retail Partnership

LOUISVILLE, Ky. & WOONSOCKET, R.I.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Humana Inc. and CVS/pharmacy have announced a strategic retail partnership designed to educate individuals and their families about their health care coverage options under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Humana representatives will be present at CVS/pharmacy’s Project Health events starting this month. Humana will also be holding in-store events at CVS/pharmacy locations to educate individuals and their families about health care coverage options under the ACA.

Humana and CVS/pharmacy will also provide educational brochures and other materials that will be available to individuals and their families.

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Health Insurance Sales Hit the Mall

A story in USA Today examines how the Affordable Care Act has prompted to open stores in malls as a way for the newly consumer-focused insurers to draw the uninsured to the plans they are offering in state exchanges starting Oct. 1.

Meanwhile, consumer advocates worry that the new stores will attract uninsured people who should be shopping on their state’s health exchange where they can compare all the plans offered for sale.

What do you think of this retailization of health insurance?

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Private Exchanges Create PBM Uncertainty

The featured article in  today’s AIS’s Health Business Daily delves into the  question of what role PBMS will play as employers move to private exchanges.

While the growth of private exchanges — and public exchanges, for that matter — poses some risks to PBMs in terms of disrupting the traditional business relationships PBMs have with employers, there are some possible positives… See for the full story.

Insurers Targeting Younger, Healthier Consumers With Mobile

Insurers that are offering plans through the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges increasingly are turning to mobile applications to reach younger, healthier consumers, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute reportU.S. News & World Report reports.

The report’s authors suggested that insurers “build out data analytics and mobile strategies” that will target consumers ages 18 to 24. They added that “mobile apps will help customers gain access to important medical and cost information” (Slabodkin, FierceMobileHealthcare, 10/1).

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Deductibles, Out-of-Pocket Maximums, Oh My! How Insurance Jargon Stirs up Fears

The problem here comes down to the insurance jargon that, say, 99.9 percent of the public doesn’t really understand. But that’s just a personal guestimate. Maybe it’s higher.

If highly educated, savvy consumers misconstrue health insurance information, what chance does that rest of the population have? How can we ensure that with the shift to a business-to-consumer market consumers actually know about the plans they sign up for through health insurance exchanges? Terms like deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums aren’t everyday verbiage.

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Healthcare Reform Heats up Drugstore Battle

The healthcare reform law will expand access to medical services for millions of people. That’s going to place added pressure on primary healthcare providers and challenge the system to meet the new demand.

So it may not be surprising that the nation’s three major drugstore chains are gearing up to play a bigger role. They’re placing retail health clinics in their stores, pushing their pharmacists to be more proactive with their prescription customers, and even entering partnerships with big medical groups.

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Private Exchanges Looking Good to Carriers

Insurance providers are feeling increasingly good about the emerging private insurance exchanges. But carriers are a bit miffed that brokers don’t seem to be doing their homework on the exchanges, and instead want carriers to provide them with answers to the private exchange quiz.

This and more intelligence comes from a study by Eastbridge Consulting Group, which surveyed carriers about their expectations for and attitudes toward private exchanges .

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Five Things Millennials Want to Know About the Health Insurance Marketplace

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — After completing statewide research, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee launched a new website to help educate shoppers, especially first time purchasers, about the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Research showed that those between the ages of 26 and 35, also known as millennials, have a lot of questions about insurance in general and about new benefits and financial assistance for the shopping on the Marketplace.

The new website – – will serve as a resource to those who are shopping for insurance for the first time or have questions about new benefits and options for individual coverage. It will help guide shoppers through applying for financial assistance and selecting the right benefits for themselves and their families.

“Our research showed that all ages and demographics valued health insurance and want to have it, but many have the perception they can’t afford it,” said Carla Raynor, vice-president of strategic marketing for BlueCross. “But Millennials in particular wanted an online resource for education that they could access at their convenience. We feel this website will help them prepare to make important coverage decisions in October when they can make their selections.”

Surveys and small group discussions demonstrated that even with simplified language, there remained a lot of questions about how the Marketplace would work and who was eligible. Participants said they wanted more resources, especially online.

Five key areas that needed more understanding were identified by those who participated in the research.

• Cost: Millennials were most concerned about monthly cost, but also about out of pocket cost and deductibles. The new website addresses how the health care law provides tax credits to eligible participants. Low monthly premiums and zero deductibles were top-rated priorities.

• Coverage and Quality: Millennials were concerned about buying a plan that offered quality coverage and were unaware of the differences in the plans that will be sold on the Marketplace. BlueCross’ website explains these differences and that all plans provide the essential health benefits.

• Marketplace Information: The most often asked questions were “How can I get the best deal on a health plan?” and “How can I access the financial assistance?” Though the ability to confirm eligibility and apply for tax credits opens with the Marketplace Oct. 1, the educational website gives shoppers resources and the ability to lookup terminology and potential options.

• Tax Credit: All age groups were interested in learning more about the tax credit (financial assistance). Information on how the credit will be calculated and the options are available beginning Oct. 1, 2013 and shoppers can start on this website. Explanations of the tax penalty for not having insurance are also addressed.

• Eligibility: The new website will direct shoppers on the process to determine eligibility. Those that already have coverage through their employer or who are Medicaid-eligible generally do not qualify for tax credits on the Marketplace.

BlueCross has been working to develop a variety of products to ensure that Tennesseans have the options and choices they need.

“We’re the only health plan to offer product choices statewide,” Raynor said. “This is part of fulfilling our mission to serve Tennesseans and it’s the right thing to do. We realize this is a complex process and people have a lot questions. This is just one of the ways we’re working to educate these potential customers about their options.”

More than 1,000 Tennesseans participated in the research, either through small group studies, questionnaires or online surveys.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee’s mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company’s website at


Wellmark Launches New Microsite and Campaign to Help Consumers Understand Health Insurance

Consumers in Iowa and South Dakota have a new tool to help them understand “What Matters” in health care reform and insurance.  Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield recently launched a new interactive microsite, What Matters, to serve as a go-to resource to help consumers understand the basics of health insurance and how the new health care reform requirements will impact them. The new site breaks health care reform into easy-to-understand articles, infographics, videos and frequently asked questions and answers.

“We designed What Matters content based on feedback from our members so it includes information that they want and feel is most important,” said Mike Gerrish, vice president, Corporate Marketing and Communications. “What Matters cuts through the clutter and takes a back-to-basics approach to explaining the changes and what they will mean for consumers. For those new to insurance all together, the site will direct consumers to the tools and resources they will need to make informed decisions for their coverage in 2014.”

Gerrish added that the responsive design of the site allows users to access the information from any desktop, tablet or smart phone. Share icons on the site also encourage visitors to email or share information on their individual social media networks.

The content on What Matters is currently focused on health care reform and links to additional resources where consumers can compare and shop for Wellmark insurance plans. Additional content about how insurance works will be added to the site in September, and information focused on better understanding pharmacy benefits is planned for this fall.

Consumers who wish to access more in-depth information about health care reform rules, regulations and specifics, can link direct from What Matters to the Wellmark’s website, said Gerrish.

To learn more, visit the What Matters microsite at: Helps Benefits Managers Educate Employees about Consumer-Directed Health Plans

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn., Nov 14, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Optum(TM) is offering benefits managers at companies of all sizes free online resources designed to help educate their employees about consumer-directed health plans and tax-advantaged health care accounts.

The resources, available at, provide benefit managers free tools that can be incorporated into their existing open enrollment and health plan education programs to help employees determine if a consumer-directed health plan and a tax-advantaged health care account is the right option for their health care needs. These tools can be used in employee meetings, on company websites, in mailings to employees or posted in the workplace.

An increasing number of employers are offering consumer-directed health plans with a tax-advantaged health care account. The number of people covered by health savings account/high-deductible health plans (HSA/HDHPs) totaled 11.4 million in January 2011, an increase of 14 percent since 2010, according to a survey of U.S. health insurance carriers conducted by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).

“Using a tax-advantaged health account is new for many people. We want to help them understand how consumer-directed health plans work so they can make smart choices at enrollment time and thereafter,” said Heidi Sirota, vice president of marketing for OptumHealth Financial Services(SM). “ gives employers a set of easy-to-use tools to share with their employees so they can decide on the best plan for their situations.”

Key resources on include:

— “Two-Minute Answers” videos that introduce the basics of HSAs;

— brief, interactive presentations employees can rewind, pause, and skip ahead to learn about tax-advantaged health accounts;

— live and prerecorded webinars with experts in health accounts;

— brochures and flyers to share in person or online with employees; and

— simple math examples that illustrate the tax savings of a flexible spending account (FSA) and HSA.

OptumHealth’s financial services business manages more than 2.3 million consumer-directed health care accounts and more than $1.3 billion in HSAs and related investment assets at its OptumHealth Bank(SM), Member FDIC. The financial services business also reduces waste and inefficiency in health care by electronically transmitting about $4 billion in payments every month from health plans to nearly 700,000 doctors, hospitals and other health care providers.

About Optum:

Optum is an information and technology-enabled health services company serving the broad health care marketplace, including care providers, plan sponsors, life sciences companies and consumers. Its business units — OptumInsight(TM), OptumHealth(R) and OptumRx(TM) — employ more than 30,000 people worldwide. Visit or for more information.

SOURCE: OptumHealth