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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Highmark Direct health insurance store to open in Erie, PA

PITTSBURGH (June 21, 2012) — Highmark Inc. announced today that it will open a Highmark Direct retail health insurance store in Erie, Pa. The store will be the ninth location in Pennsylvania.

“Across other parts of the state, the Highmark Direct stores have helped customers better understand health insurance and make more informed decisions about their health,” said Matt Fidler, Highmark vice president of consumerism and retail marketing. “With the addition of the Erie store, we’ll be able to reach even more Pennsylvanians who need health insurance support.”

Highmark opened its first two Highmark Direct stores in March 2009, added four stores in 2010 and two additional stores in 2011. Since inception, the stores have seen more than 144,000 visitors and provided health insurance to thousands of individuals and their families.

The Highmark Direct Erie store is scheduled to open in August and will be located at 5753 Peach Street in Kingswood Plaza. Eight additional employees will be hired as staff for the new store location.

Highmark Direct offers consumers in Highmark’s service area the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a health insurance specialist to discuss their health insurance options and their benefits as a Highmark member. The stores sell health insurance plans to individuals, seniors and small businesses, as well as ancillary products such as dental insurance, critical illness and accident insurance as well as a personalized genetic health program.

About Highmark
Highmark Inc., based in Pittsburgh, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. Highmark serves 4.9 million members in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware through the company’s health care benefits business and is one of the largest Blue plans in the nation. Highmark has 20,000 employees across the country and provides a broad range of health and wellness related services through subsidiary and affiliate companies. For more information, visit 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


Independence Blue Cross Launches New Lower-Cost, High-Value Individual Health Plans

Philadelphia, PA – November 1, 2011Independence Blue Cross (IBC) announced the introduction of two new progressively designed health plans for individuals and families that offer coverage beginning this fall on November 15. New members in southeastern Pennsylvania may now select from a broadened suite of 13 different medically underwritten health plans from IBC, which provides the most preferred health plans in the region, according to a 2011 research study.

“Consumers are asking for more choice, increased flexibility, and greater affordability in their health plans, and they want incentives that encourage proactive steps to stay well,” said Daniel J. Hilferty, IBC’s president and CEO. “We’re offering health plans that respond directly to these needs and we’re offering even lower rates than ever before.  We’re pleased that our new, lower cost options will bring health insurance within reach for more people.”

“We’ve developed a wide array of individual health plan that balance cost-consciousness with the health services consumers most often use,” said Brett Mayfield, vice president of sales for IBC.  Mayfield said the new health plans will be available for sale through brokers and direct from IBC through with coverage beginning November 15, 2011:

  • The Personal Choice® PPO 8000 Deductible plan. Designed for consumers who are generally healthy and want low monthly premiums and low out-of-pocket costs when they see their primary care physicians for check-ups.
  • The Keystone Health Plan East HMO 30 Copay plan. Designed for consumers who are looking for predictable costs for health care services with manageable monthly premiums.

“Brokers who sell IBC health plans will now have even more competitively priced products to offer their customers,” said Mayfield. “Our new Personal Choice® PPO can cost younger individuals as little as $68 per month, the lowest monthly premium for individual coverage we’ve offered.”

“I’ve been marketing individual health plans for about 30 years, and when it comes to delivering quality products, IBC is in a league of its own,” said Sal DiNardo, principal and founder of Custom Benefit Plans, Inc., based in Willow Grove, PA. “Our Individual and self-employed consumers now get to enjoy access to the same level of benefits and services that IBC has historically offered small and larger group markets. IBC continually develops new products that help enhance our ability to accommodate every need and budget, and our customers simply trust the brand. The new PPO plan will be very appealing to young, healthy folks who want to know they’ve got coverage if they need it, but don’t have to pay a high monthly premium for that peace of mind.”

IBC’s market research shows that IBC’s brand loyalty is significantly higher among individual members in the region versus its leading competitor (63 percent versus 47 percent). IBC understands that people’s priorities change as life circumstances shift, which guides decisions about what health care coverage an individual needs, Mayfield noted. IBC’s suite of individual health plans provides varying levels of cost and coverage, allowing individual customers to choose the option that best meets their unique needs.

All of IBC’s individual plans emphasize the use of generic prescription drugs, which helps to lower the cost of health care. IBC encourages the use of lower cost generic substitutes, when available, because generics are therapeutically equivalent to their more expensive brand-name counterparts and save money for health care consumers and in the health care system overall.

IBC’s suite of individual products also offers a wide range of health care services and the popular Healthy LifestylesSM incentive programs that reimburse members $150 per year for fitness club fees, $200 for approved smoking cessation programs, and $200 for approved weight loss programs – features that help members strive for optimal wellness, making the most of their health benefits.

IBC’s individual plans also offer coverage for preventive care,  x-ray and laboratory services, 24/7 access to a Health Coach, and prescription drug benefits including a money-saving mail order option. Health Coaches provide support for everyday or more serious health concerns and can provide education when consumers are facing medical decisions or deciding among treatment options.

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 3.1 million people. For 73 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. More information about Independence Blue Cross is available at


Regence Life and Health Keeps it Simple With Launch of myStro

PORTLAND, Ore., July 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Regence Life and Health has launched myStro, an online enrollment tool that provides employers and their employees with customized, real-time information about their insurance benefits. Among the features is a guided tour that walks employees through their benefit options and recommends the best products to meet their unique profile and coverage needs.

“The myStro enrollment system reflects Regence Life and Health’s commitment to offering our members a personalized, simplified member experience. Our goal is to go beyond enrollment to make managing their benefits effortless, so our employer groups can focus on their business,” says Regence Life and Health CEO Joe Wilds.

Benefits enrollment made easy

The system does the work for employers and employees by helping them navigate through their benefit information:

  • Each employee uses myStro to navigate their benefits and learn about each product. The  system then makes recommendations for new or additional benefits based on their personal, demographic information. As they do so, the system tallies up any coverage costs, providing a breakout of costs and coverage (pre-tax, post-tax and employer paid).
  • Employers can use the system to view the benefit plan(s) each employee has chosen, who has yet to enroll in benefits and how much should be deducted from their paycheck for each plan.


Putting the human back in human resources

myStro is customized for each Regence Life and Health client and may include information from all of their insurers – including medical, dental, life insurance and short term disability. Employers can use myStro in one or a combination of the following to enroll in their benefits:

  • Web-based, real-time enrollment with a licensed educator walking each employee through their benefits
  • Online only with enhanced education on each product
  • Paper applications customized for each employee


To learn more about myStro, please visit

About Regence Life and Health

For more than 20 years, Regence Life and Health has offered quality life and disability products, dental and health plans. As a subsidiary of The Regence Group, the company is associated with the financial strength and brand recognition of the largest health insurer in the Northwest/Intermountain Region. Regence Life and Health is committed to lifetime relationships with our members and helping them through life transitions. For more information, please visit


SOURCE Regence Life and Health Insurance Company


Anthem Blue Cross Emergency Room Interventions Using Google Maps and Education, Empower Consumers to Choose ER Alternatives for Non-Emergency Conditions

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif., July 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Anthem Blue Cross has launched an emergency room education campaign incorporating Google Maps to make it easier for consumers to find and use retail health clinics and urgent care centers for non-emergency conditions when their regular physicians are not available.

“When your five-year-old is crying with a fever at 7 p.m. on a Friday because she has a sore throat or an ear ache, what do you do?” said Kurt Tamaru, MD, Anthem medical director.  “It’s important people know that they have options for less serious ailments other than an ER, such as retail health clinics and urgent care centers that provide quality care and cost them significantly less.”

For example, emergency rooms that contract with Anthem Blue Cross generally charge an average $641 to treat strep throat compared with $70 at urgent care centers and $27 at retail health clinics. Consumers can save out-of-pocket expenses because ER copays cost about $150, compared with $10 to $40 for retail health clinics and urgent care centers.

“Not only were the ER program’s online tools developed to be easy to use—but they are available to everyone,” said Pam Kehaly, president, Anthem Blue Cross. “All you have to do is go to Google, Yahoo! or Bing, and type in ‘Anthem and urgent care’ and our educational site will pop up with a link to help you find ER alternatives. The link will also provide information on when it’s appropriate to use these alternatives.”

“We see in our data that the highest rates of avoidable ER use are among people 34 and younger—those who are less likely to have a primary care physician but more likely to be technology consumers,” Tamaru said. “We chose to develop Google Maps and create online links because that’s where many consumers go for information today.”

About 17 percent of all visits to hospital emergency departments nationally could potentially be treated at retail medical clinics or urgent care centers for an estimated savings of $4.4 billion, according to a RAND Corp. study published in the September 2010 edition of Health Affairs. ER visits also are getting longer, with California ranked 40th nationally in the length of its ER waits—274 minutes, according to the Emergency Department Pulse Report, Press Ganey Associates, 2010.

Research performed by HealthCore Inc., which conducts research for health plans and others, showed that a pilot program with a commercially insured population in Virginia, which included member education via e-mails and online advertising, in addition to financial incentives and a Google map finder for retail health clinics and urgent care centers, assisted in members’ decisions to use ER alternatives for non-emergency care.

The study showed that ER use for conditions that could be treated at retail health or urgent care clinics decreased in 2010 from 2009 for all populations studied.  Specifically, HealthCore reported a 14 percent decrease in ER visits for those who participated in the program compared with those who did not. The decrease in visits covered minor sicknesses or conditions that could be treated elsewhere.

“This program demonstrates that by empowering members with information on appropriate resources, they can get the care they need while helping to control health care costs and reduce their out of pocket expenses,” added Kehaly.

After the intervention period, the group participating in the program was more than twice as likely to seek treatment for non-emergency conditions at retail health clinics than those who did not participate.

The ER program includes:

  • Links on Google, Yahoo! and Bing that drive visitors to an educational site explaining when it’s appropriate to use ER alternatives, such as retail health clinics and urgent care centers.


  • A Google map, available to everyone, that provides the location of ER alternatives in Anthem’s network throughout the state so that consumers can easily find them.
  • Automated calls to educate members whose recent ER visits were potentially avoidable, and e-mails to members interested in learning more information.
  • Educational pieces mailed explaining the type of conditions that could be treated at ER alternatives and potential differences in cost.

About Anthem Blue Cross:

Anthem Blue Cross is the trade name of Blue Cross of California.  Anthem Blue Cross Partnership Plan is the trade name of Blue Cross of California Partnership Plan. Anthem Blue Cross and Anthem Blue Cross Partnership Plan are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Association. ® ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc.  The Blue Cross names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association. Additional information about Anthem Blue Cross is available at Also, follow us on Twitter at, on Facebook, , or visit our YouTube channel at


SOURCE Anthem Blue Cross


GoHealth Breaks Down Coverage of Group Health Plans

CHICAGO, IL–(Marketwire – Jun 25, 2011) – Do group health insurance plans provide the best coverage? From the looks of a GoHealth infographic, that might not always be the case. is unveiling an infographic to show data from the Department of Labor and Department of Health and Human Services revealing the percentage of group plans that cover specific health services.

For example, only 66 percent of group health insurance plans completely cover maternity care while 91 percent cover emergency room visits.

“We’ve been used to believing that employer-sponsored health insurance always provided the best and most comprehensive coverage. But these days, as we see with this infographic, not all group plans offer the benefits we expect,” said Mark Colwell, Manager of Consumer Marketing at “If a person has health insurance through an employer, it’s very important to review and understand which medical services are covered and which are not.”

For many policyholders, group plans offer just the right amount of coverage. But for those who are looking for additional benefits and more robust coverage, it might not hurt to explore a few options in the individual health insurance market.

“Health insurance is something that should really be customized. We always advise people who visit our site to review their health plan at least once a year with an agent or a human resources department. Our agents are always around to help if needed,” added Colwell.

Consumers can view the latest GoHealth infographic at

Data for the infographic was provided by the report entitled “Selected Medical Benefits: A Report from the Dept. of Labor to the Dept. of Health and Human Services” from the U.S. Dept. of Labor and Dept. of Health and Human Services. The 2011 report can be found at

About GoHealthInsurance is an online health insurance quote comparison resource  and that has helped more than 2 million Americans obtain coverage. Consumers use the platform to research, compare, and purchase coverage from the nation’s top insurance companies using online technology, by phone, and through a nationwide network of trusted advisors.


hCentive Powers Sales Automation Platform for Coventry Health Care Individual Business

Sterling, VA – June 10, 2011 – hCentive, Inc ( today announced that Coventry Health Care, Inc. ( selected the hCentive WebInsure Consumer platform to power the online sales of its health plan products for individuals and families.

Online consumers shopping for health insurance and brokers who quote and sell CoventryOne Individual products are now using the hCentive WebInsure Consumer platform.

“Coventry’s goal is to offer a simple and straight-forward experience for our customers. We looked for an easy-to-use solution for both consumers and brokers. The tool that we built with hCentive accomplishes that goal and positions us for success in the growing Individual market, ” said Tom Stoiber, Vice President, Individual Products at Coventry Health Care. “We evaluated many different vendors, and hCentive offered the best platform and value for our investment.”

“We are extremely pleased with Coventry’s selection of hCentive Solution,’ said Sanjay Singh, CEO of hCentive, Inc. “Coventry’s choice reflects the value payers see in our solution. We have created a platform that helps insurance companies meet the requirements of health care reform and simplify distribution and administration. ”

About Coventry Health Care, Inc.
Coventry Health Care ( is a diversified national managed health care company based in Bethesda, Maryland, operating health plans, insurance companies, network rental and workers’ compensation services companies. Coventry provides a full range of risk and fee-based managed care products and services to a broad cross section of individuals, employer and government-funded groups, government agencies, and other insurance carriers and administrators.

About hCentive
hCentive is in the business of simplifying the complex world of health insurance. hCentive provides technology solutions for health insurers, state health insurance agencies and health care software companies. These solutions help them reduce cost and administrative complexity, while enhancing relationships with their customers.

The hCentive WebInsure Consumer and WebInsure Group platform help health insurers cost effectively acquire individual and small business customers. The hCentive WebInsure State platform helps states comply with health insurance exchange requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

My Plan by Medica Helps Employers Better Control Healthcare Expenses and Preserve Security for Employees

MINNETONKA, Minn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Medica today announced that it will offer an innovative new defined contribution health benefit offering that will help employers better control rising healthcare costs while providing more group health coverage choices for their employees. The offering – My Plan by MedicaSM – is the first of its kind in the Minnesota market and created through an exclusive partnership between Medica and Bloom Health, a leader in defined contribution health benefits.

“Our defined contribution model addresses both the needs of employers and consumers”

My Plan by Medica features 20 group health benefit plans with a range of deductibles, coinsurance and benefits from which employees may choose.

According to a press release, My Plan by Medica provides employers with more predictable management of their health benefit costs, along with simplified plan administration. My Plan by Medica enables employers to determine how much they want to spend on employee health benefits and then allocate pre-tax dollars into a health account on behalf of each employee. The product also offers full administrative services so benefits administrators don’t have to manage 20 different plan options.

Consumers, meanwhile, have greater control over their health plan choices. During the plan selection process, employees use a My Plan by Medica proprietary online selection tool. The tool asks each employee a series of questions about their financial situation, health status and risk tolerance and provides a custom list of three group plans that best match each individual’s needs. A My Plan Advisor is available by phone at all steps of the selection process to help employees understand their options and make informed and personalized choices. The My Plan by Medica proprietary online tool is based on technology developed through Bloom Health.

“Our defined contribution model addresses both the needs of employers and consumers,” said Abir Sen, Bloom Health founder and CEO. “Our customers are finding that their employees are more satisfied with their benefits than with traditional plan offerings. And they are more likely to get preventive care than through traditional plan offerings, more likely to go to the doctor at appropriate times and more interested in the state of their own health.”

Embraced by brokers, employers and employees

“Employers often struggle with the cost of health benefits, with administrative complexity and employee dissatisfaction,” said John Naylor, Medica vice president and general manager of commercial sales, renewals and account services. “By leveraging leading-edge technology, My Plan by Medica allows employers to continue to provide group health benefits to their employees while also offering them the ability to make choices that are appropriate to their individual needs. We think this is a product whose time has come –- initial demand from brokers who have been through the credentialing process is very strong.”

Said Pat Boughey, principal at Mercer Human Resource Consulting: “We are seeing lots of interest from our clients – of all sizes – in this unique defined contribution solution offered by Medica.”

My Plan by Medica will be offered to employers only through brokers credentialed by Medica to sell the product. My Plan by Medica is available to fully insured employers beginning with an effective coverage date of July 1, 2011.

About Medica

Medica is a health services company headquartered in Minneapolis and active in the Upper Midwest. With approximately 1.66 million members, the non-profit company provides health care coverage in the employer, individual, Medicaid, Medicare and Medicare Part D markets in Minnesota and a growing number of counties in North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Medica also offers national network coverage to employers who also have employees outside the Medica regional network.

About Bloom

Based in Minneapolis, Bloom Health helps employers of all sizes and industries better define and control their health care spending. Bloom then guides employees through the complex world of health insurance, helping them find the right health plan for them and their families with its proprietary search and recommendations engine. Bloom Health was founded in 2009. Bloom Health is partially owned by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Venture Partners, LP, a corporate venture fund sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. For more information,


Walgreens Completes Acquisition

DEERFIELD, Ill., June 03, 2011 – Walgreen Co. (NYSE: WAG)(NASDAQ: WAG) today announced that it has completed its acquisition of The transaction includes all websites directly owned and operated by, as well as its corporate office and customer service and distribution center operations.

The transaction, which represents a total enterprise value of approximately $409 million, follows Walgreens acquisition last year of New York-based drugstore chain Duane Reade. The addition of’s strong online business across its health, personal care, beauty and vision categories better positions Walgreens as the most convenient multi-channel retailer of health and daily living needs in America.

“We welcome’s leaders and employees to the Walgreens family,” said Walgreens President and CEO Greg Wasson. “ complements Walgreens center of gravity — our 7,700 drugstores ? by extending many of our own multi-channel initiatives that have been driving our growth. This acquisition also provides us a unique opportunity to access more than 3 million savvy, online loyal customers, and move even closer to our existing customers through relationships with new vendors and partners, adding approximately 60,000 products to our already strong online offering.”

Walgreens President of E-commerce Sona Chawla will lead the combined e-commerce business. Dawn Lepore, former CEO and chairman, will continue through a transition period as a strategic advisor to Chawla.

“Today we are better positioned than ever before to offer our customers what they want, when they want it and where they want it? in our stores, online or through their mobile devices,” said Chawla. “We want to provide our customers an exceptional experience, and together with, we will give them more ways to connect and buy, easy access to a wide selection of products and services and increased delivery options. We are committed to joining’s talented team with our strong and growing e-commerce organization.” will maintain separate branding of its websites. Over the long term, Walgreens will fully integrate the two businesses and intends to enhance its multi-channel product assortment and the overall customer experience by leveraging’s current websites.

About Walgreens

Walgreens ( is the nation’s largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2010 sales of $67 billion. The company operates 7,689 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Each day, Walgreens provides nearly 6 million customers the most convenient, multi-channel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country.

About, inc. is a leading online retailer of health, beauty, clinical skincare, and vision products. The portfolio of brands includes:™,™,™ and™. All provide a convenient, private and informative shopping experience, while offering a wide assortment of approximately 60,000 non-prescription products at competitive prices.

The pharmacy service, in association with BioScrip Pharmacy Services, Inc., is certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) as a Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS) and complies with federal and state laws and regulations in the United States.