Weekly Health Insurance Industry Highlights
Catch up on healthcare news and gain insights from our own industry gurus.
WellPoint announces intent to change corporate name to Anthem, Inc.
INDIANAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Aug. 13, 2014– As health care continues to move toward greater consistency and clarity, and direct relationships with consumers, WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE: WLP) announced plans to change its corporate name to Anthem, Inc. The change will enable the Company to create better alignment between its corporate and product brands and better reflect its purpose and strategy to help transform health care.
Pending approval from shareholders, the change is expected to take place by the end of 2014. A special shareholder meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana for shareholders of record on September 12, 2014. WELLPOINT PRESS RELEASE | WELLPOINT ANNOUNCES INTENT TO CHANGE CORPORATE NAME TO ANTHEM, INC.
UnitedHealthcare launching new low cost network in New Jersey
UnitedHealthcare’s Oxford division is launching a New Jersey-only network that will provide lower-cost health plans to employers. The new Oxford Garden State Network will offer coverage from 18,000 doctors and 65 hospitals.
Chuck Cerniglia, vice president, small business sales for UnitedHealthcare, said employers on average will see 10 percent lower health insurance premiums if they choose the new health plans in the Garden State Network, which launches Sept. 1.
“It limits access to New Jersey-only providers and it is a solution for New Jersey employers where a smaller network offers a reduction in cost,” he said.
He added that employers will continue to have the option of offering their employees the company’s larger networks alongside the more limited — but also more affordable — Garden State network. He said while a New Jersey-only network won’t work for all employers, many clearly are seeking less-expensive health care options. NJBIZ | UNITEDHEALTHCARE’S OXFORD STARTS N.J.-ONLY HEALTH CARE NETWORK
Hawaii Medical Services Association pulling out of state’s small-business exchange
Hawaii’s largest health insurer is pulling out of the small-business side of the state’s troubled health exchange, leaving the Hawaii Health Connector with only one insurance company for employers to select.
Michael Gold, president of Hawaii Medical Services Association, told The Associated Press that his staff is spending too much time and money dealing with the Connector’s technical problems.
The decision affects more than 300 Hawaii businesses that buy plans for 664 subscribers and independents from HMSA through the exchange. HMSA will stop offering plans to small businesses beginning January 2015.
The companies will be able to finish the terms of their enrollment over the next few months, and then they can either enroll in plans directly through HMSA or choose a different plan on the exchange, likely from the only other insurer, Kaiser Permanente, Gold said. THE MAUI NEWS | THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | INSURER PULLS PLANS FROM HAWAII HEALTH CONNECTOR
Telemedicine is growing
With an aging Baby Boomer population and broadband bandwidth improved a hundredfold from a decade ago, telemedicine is exploding as a convenient and less costly alternative to the traditional visit to the doctors’ office.
This year in the U.S. and Canada, 75 million of 600 million appointments with general practitioners will involve electronic visits, or eVisits, according to new research from Deloitte.
The vast majority of eVisits, according to Deloitte, are likely to focus on capturing patient information through electronic forms, questionnaires and photos, rather than through direct interaction with a physician using Skype or some other real-time tool.
“For example, patients with symptoms of certain illnesses such as sinusitis, strep throat, allergies, bladder infection or acne would complete an online form and then receive a diagnosis and, if required, a prescription,” Deloitte stated in a recent report.
While not all in-person primary physician consults can be handled by eVisits, even only 30% to 40% implies a $50 to $60 billion total addressable market, according to Deloitte. COMPUTER WORLD | ALMOST ONE IN SIX DOCTOR VISITS WILL BE VIRTUAL THIS YEAR
2015 HIX Participants
UnitedHealth has applied to sell exchange plans in 24 states
This year, the company sold plans in four states: Colorado, Maryland, Nevada, and New York
Next year, the company plans on expanding coverage to:
Three new insurers plan to offer policies on the Illinois health insurance exchange in the second year of the Affordable Care Act.
Centene Corp., under its IlliniCare Health banner, plans to partner in 2015 with hospitals that traditionally have served low-income residents.
The participation of UnitedHealthcare, the state’s second-largest insurer, which sat out of the exchanges in 2014, could alone help suppress costs in Illinois, experts say.
Another new entrant, Assurant Health, plans to offer exchange-based products in Illinois for the first time in 2015, a spokeswoman confirmed.
Assurant, which did not sell plans on any state and federal exchanges last year, will offer them in 16 states in 2015, said Susan Burkee, a spokeswoman.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE | ILLINOIS EXCHANGE ON 3 ADDITIONAL INSURERS’ RADAR FOR 2015