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The U.S. health care system is so complicated, it now takes four years in college to learn how to navigate it.  The University of Indianapolis has created Indiana’s first bachelor’s degree program in health care consumer advocacy, which is designed to train workers to help patients wend their way through the health care system. Health care consumer advocates work as case managers and care coordinators in hospitals, physician practices, insurance companies, long-term-care facilities, as well as in public and not-for-profit agencies. Traditionally, these roles have been filled by nurses and social workers, but UIndy believes the expansion of insurance coverage and consumer financial responsibilities under Obamacare and the rise of retail medicine are increasing the need for such workers. The UIndy degree program is offered in accelerated five-week evening courses by UIndy’s School for Adult Learning. It can be completed in two or three years.

Ohio-based CareSource Inc., which is offering health plans on the Obamacare exchange in Indiana this year, plans to open a call center in Indianapolis that will employ about 200 workers. CareSource is a 25-year-old managed Medicaid plan that covers more than 1.3 million people in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Located at 5920 Castleway West Drive in Castleton, the center will be managed by Xerox Corp. and is expected to begin operations Dec. 8. The center will help support CareSource’s growing Just4Me plan, which is available through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the Obamacare exchange. More than 30,000 Ohio residents signed up for the plan when it was launched last year, so CareSource began offering it to Kentucky and Indiana residents this month.

After sitting on the sidelines this year, UnitedHealthcare is getting back into Indiana’s individual insurance game. The Minnesota-based insurance giant started selling new individual insurance policies to Hoosiers on Nov. 15 in the federal Obamacare exchange. In addition, for the first time, it has begun to offer policies off the exchange that comply with Obamacare’s new rules. That means the nation’s largest health insurer will once again be waging an all-fronts battle for business with Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc., the nation’s second-largest insurer. UnitedHealthcare will have health plans on the exchange that offer the broad network of hospitals and doctors workers are used to seeing in their employer health plans. By contrast, WellPoint’s Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield subsidiary offered Obamacare exchange customers a narrow choice of doctors and hospitals.

BioCrossroads, the life sciences business development group, will receive another $2.4 million over the next four years from the Indianapolis-based Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation. The money is designed to help Indianapolis-based BioCrossroads continue its work on several initiatives. Those includes the Indiana Health Information Exchange for medical records, the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute for research on improving health care at the patient level, and the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute, which is designed to unite academic and industry researchers around the issues of diabetes, obesity and metabolic diseases. The foundation had given BioCrossroads $6.3 million prior to the latest grant.

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