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Insurers resume chasing individuals

J.K. Wall
November 11, 2009
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Those Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield ads on the sides of IndyGo buses are part of a national trend of health insurers going after more business in the individual insurance market they once shunned.

Whether the trend continues hinges largely on national health care reform pending in Congress.

According to a new study by the Center for Studying Health System Change in Washington, D.C., health insurance companies are competing for certain groups of individuals looking to buy insurance on their own—namely the young, healthy workers who have foregone coverage or don’t receive it from their employers.

That includes Indianapolis, one of the 12 markets in which the center conducted its analysis.

Insurers also have their eye on the federal subsidies that are part of health reform proposals. These, combined with a mandate to have health insurance, might create a flood of new individual insurance customers across the country.

But new market regulations from Congress might undercut insurers' current strategy of offering low-cost individual policies that do not offer comprehensive coverage.

“If enacted, current health reform proposals, which envision a larger role for the individual market under a sharply different regulatory framework, would likely supersede insurers’ current strategies,” said Paul B. Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change.

So far, this effort to attract more individual customers has not worked for Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc., the parent company of Anthem. In the past 24 months, it has lost nearly 11 percent of its individual customers.

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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.

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