Health insurers in the news: 2 Weeks in review July 10-23

The following insurers made headlines in the past two weeks. They are listed below, beginning with the most recent.

1. Anthem to buy Cigna — and then there were three
After Anthem inked a deal to acquire Humana earlier this month, the insurer announced it has reached terms to buy Cigna. These two mergers include four of the five largest payers in the nation.

2. BCBS of Georgia accused of fraudulently overcharging customers
John Oxendine, former Georgia Insurance Commissioner, filed a lawsuit claiming Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia overcharged patients for their premiums while also cutting payments to physicians who were outside of its coverage network, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

3. Insurer mega-mergers could produce counterintuitive effect
Despite the fear that payer consolidation is a bad thing, a few industry experts anticipate the opposite. Jim Winkler, chief innovation officer at Aon Hewitt Health, weighed in on the issue.

4. UnitedHealthcare, 5 other insurers hit with $755k in fines
CMS levied fines totaling $755,795 on six Medicare Advantage providers for giving inaccurate information about costs and benefits to policyholders. Providers include Health Net of Arizona, UnitedHealthcare of New York and Atrio Health Plans.

5. California insurance regulator accuses Aetna of 'price gouging'
California officials found Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna's premium increases on small businesses unreasonable for the fourth time since 2013, according to a Los Angeles Times report. Aetna raised rates by an average of 21 percent for about 13,000 people covered by small employers in California.

6. Molina Healthcare to expand Medicaid footprint in Chicago
Long Beach, Calif.-based Molina Healthcare and MyCare Chicago announced an agreement for Molina Healthcare of Illinois to acquire the assets of some of MyCare Chicago's Medicaid business. Molina can assume MyCare Chicago's 61,000 Medicaid members in Cook County, Ill., in addition to some assets of its Medicaid business.

7. UnitedHealth profits rising; Optum revenues up
UnitedHealth Group released promising numbers for the second quarter of fiscal year 2015. Key points include UnitedHealth's revenue increasing 11 percent to $36.3 billion and revenue attributable to Optum increasing 16 percent year-over-year to $13.6 billion.

8. Exchange plans have 34% fewer providers than commercial plans
The average provider network for plans offered on the health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act includes 34 percent fewer providers than the average commercial plan offered outside the exchanges, according to a study from healthcare advisory services company Avalere. Avalere analyzed the number of physicians available on exchange plans compared to on commercial plans.

9. Mass. insurers asked to improve health cost websites
The largest health insurers in Massachusetts must improve their price transparency online, according to a study by the advocacy group Health Care for All. Although the health insurers are meeting the state requirement of providing customers with cost estimates, the data is difficult to find online, according to The Boston Globe.

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