Author Archives: Courant Business Editor Sandra Csizmar

Anthem, St. Vincent’s Health Partners Launch Accountable Care Plan

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

By BRIAN DOWLING | The Hartford Courant

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and St. Vincent’s Health Partners announced Friday a new reimbursement contract for chronic disease patients that is based on outcome and quality of care rather than traditional fee-for-service models.

The agreement — called an accountable-care organization — links St. Vincent’s insurance reimbursements from Anthem to certain metrics related to hyper tension, diabetes, tobacco use and obesity.

Health insurers increasingly are using accountable-care organizations, which often include using electronic medical records and clinical coordinators to follow up on patients. In March, Aetna and ProHealth Physicians Inc., a doctors’ network, announced a similar agreement, the first of its kind in the state.

“Healthcare is being shifted from volume-based reimbursement to value-based reimbursement,” Dr. Thomas A. Raskaukas, chief executive of St. Vincent’s Health Care Partners, said in an interview.

To do this, Bridgeport-based St. Vincent’s will increase patient follow-ups, for instance, making sure they get their medication or receive preventative treatments. The healthcare group will also examine service trends to see where treatments, varying in method or price, produce similar outcomes. A major target is to avoid hospital readmissions and emergency room visits.

“The goal is to improve the fractionated care that goes on by having more coordinated care and by looking at outcomes and quality metrics,” Raskaukas said.

Anthem and St. Vincent’s will share in savings from the program, the groups said in a joint statement.

Dr. Peter Power, Anthem’s chief medical officer, said in a written statement: “As Connecticut’s largest commercial health insurer, we believe we have a unique opportunity to use our size, scope, and experience to bring about substantive improvements in health care delivery that will benefit people in Connecticut,” added Dr. Bowers.

Courant Staff Writer Matthew Sturdevant contributed to this report.

Bloomberg: Hartford Financial Said To Seek Sale Of Japanese Annuity Unit

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

On the heals of their annual stockholder meeting, Bloomberg is reporting that Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. may be looking to sell their Japanese annuity unit.

Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., the insurance company pruning operations after an activist investor urged it to split up last year, hired Deutsche Bank AG to seek a buyer for its Japanese business, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The people asked not to be identified because the process is private. The Japan unit had about 400,000 variable annuities contracts invested in stocks and bonds worth $27 billion as of March 31, according to a presentation to investors on April 11. Hartford had another $67 billion of annuities in the U.S. and U.K., according to the presentation.  More>>>

Health Exchange Gets A Makeover

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

From Metro Editor Bernie Davidow:

Access Health CT logoSay so long to the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange, the old name for the state’s new online marketplace for health plans. Beginning Tuesday, the group has a new name — Access Health CT — a new logo, and a new website.

“The goal is to make Access Health CT consumer friendly — a true competitive marketplace for people to attain high quality health insurance coverage,” Jason Madrak, the group’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement announcing the makeover Tuesday.

“This is going to be the one place Connecticut residents and small business owners can go to compare and choose robust health insurance plans from brand-name companies,” he said. “It’s where individuals will find out if they’re eligible for discounts through tax credits or if they’re qualified for Medicaid. And where small businesses will see what tax benefits they may receive for providing coverage to their employees.”

The exchange, a quasi-governmental marketplace for health plans, is part of federal health care reform. Open enrollment is scheduled to start in October.

The new website is www.accesshealthct.com.

The group explains its new logo this way:

“Extensive consumer testing was undertaken to ensure the name, logo, descriptor and colors were effective for increasing awareness of the Exchange and conveying that it will be accessible, welcoming and helpful. Conducted over several months with more than 300 likely Exchange customers, the research showed that people want convenience, assistance, and understandable options when it comes to health care insurance. The sun logo was seen as warm and inviting, and depicting ‘a brighter day for Connecticut’ according to one research participant. “

Pappas MacDonnell, a marketing and communications agency based in Southport, worked to develop the new brand, Access health CT said in its press release.

Will Young Adults Face Health Insurance ‘Rate Shock?’

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

From the Washington Post:

Many young, healthy Americans could soon see a jump in their health-insurance costs, and insurance companies are saying: It’s not our fault.

The nation’s insurers are engaged in an all-out, last-ditch effort to shield themselves from blame for what they predict will be rate increases on new policies they must unveil this spring to comply with President Barack Obama’s health-care law.

Insurers point to several reasons that premiums will rise. They will soon be required to offer more-comprehensive coverage than many currently provide. Also, their costs will increase because they will be barred from rejecting the sick, and they will no longer be allowed to charge older customers sharply higher premiums than younger ones.

Click here to read more.

Cigna Expands Internships To Graduate Students

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

From Courant staff writer Mara Lee:

Cigna’s part-time internship program on the University of Connecticut campus, less than a year old, is already successful from the insurance company’s perspective — of eight interns who are graduating in the spring, four have accepted offers of full-time work.

Last spring, Cigna decided to create part-time internships on the University of Connecticut campus, selecting 10 students from the state’s flagship university and eight from Eastern Connecticut State.

Click here to read more.

Aetna To Sell Missouri Medicaid As Part Of Coventry Deal

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

Reuters reports:

Aetna Inc. said on Tuesday it agreed to sell its Missouri Medicaid business to WellCare Health Plans Inc. as part of its purchase of Coventry Health Care Inc. because their combined Missouri businesses had exceeded Medicaid membership limits.

Aetna said in August that it planned to buy Coventry for about $5.6 billion to expand its Medicaid government health insurance business for the poor and disabled.

The deal, which it expects to complete in mid-2013, has been under review by U.S. antitrust regulators.

Aetna said that Missouri Care provides managed care to more than 100,000 members. It said that Coventry’s business in Missouri, HealthCare USA, has 250,000 members.

Travelers Profit Halves On Losses From Superstorm Sandy

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

Travelers last earnings report was released this morning.  Reuters reports:

Travelers Cos. Inc.’s quarterly profit fell by half on higher catastrophe losses from superstorm Sandy but the property insurer forecast higher premiums across its businesses.

The company’s net profit fell to $304 million, or 78 cents per share, in the fourth quarter from $618 million, or $1.51 per share, a year earlier.

On an operating basis, Travelers earned 72 cents per share.

For more, click here.

Rick Green: Time Is Ripe To Consider Liability Insurance For Gun Owners

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

Courant politics editor Rick Green on the idea of liability insurance for gun owners:

Time Is Ripe To Consider Liability Insurance For Gun Owners

As the gun debate heats up, one idea seems particularly suited for Connecticut to consider: liability insurance for gun owners.

This is the kind of mandatory insurance you have to get to drive a car — and the kind of protection that costs more if you want to take what the industry knows is a calculated risk. Letting your teenager get behind the wheel is a good example.

When I wanted my son to drive the family cars, my insurance agent offered a market-based solution: pay for the risk and he could drive. Nobody said my son couldn’t drive — but I had to acknowledge the extreme danger that comes with a teenage boy in the driver’s seat. We know this because of extensive research on teenagers and driving by the insurance industry.

Read more here.

Bloomberg: UnitedHealth Joins Mayo Clinic in Research Pact To Improve Care

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

From Bloomberg News:

UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH), the largest U.S. provider of medical coverage, will join the Mayo Clinic in a research alliance designed to merge insurance records and medical data to find more efficient ways to deliver care.

The venture will focus on fundamental issues that may help standardize care in a way that will lower costs, said Veronique Roger, head of the clinic’s Center for the Science of Health Delivery. This could include things such as analyzing the steps needed for successful hip replacement surgery or ways to get patients to consistently take their medicines, she said.

For more, click here.

MetLife, GE Close Deal For $6.4B In Bank Deposits

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

From Reuters:

MetLife Inc. said on Monday it had closed the sale of its deposit business to General Electric Co., a move that allows the U.S. insurer to drop its registration as a bank holding company and provides GE Capital with an alternative source of funding for its lending business.

The deal, for $6.4 billion in bank deposits, had been in the works for more than a year with regulatory review the main reason for the delay.

The two companies in September tweaked the deal structure to make it subject to the approval of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, rather than the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, and won approval in mid-December.

Fairfield-based GE reached the deal to buy the deposit-taking unit in December 2011, with an eye toward making its GE Capital finance unit less dependent on borrowing.

New York-based MetLife said the deal reflected its desire to focus on its insurance and employee benefit operations.