Former CareFirst CEO Bill Jews to chair Ryland Homes board

William L. Jews, who led CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield from the brink of insolvency in the 1990s, has been named chairman of Ryland Homes Inc.’s board of directors. Jews, CEO of CareFirst, the region’s largest health insurer, from 1993 until he stepped down in 2006, replaces R. Chad Dreier as head of the board of the Calabasas, Calif., home builder. His chairmanship will take effect following Ryland’s (NYSE: RYL) April 28 annual meeting. Jews, 57, also is a member of the boards of Columbia’s Fortress International Group Inc., Baltimore’s Camden Learning Group and Choice Hotels International of Silver Spring. As CareFirst’s CEO, he tried to guide the company through a for-profit conversion and $1.37 billion sale to WellPoint, one of the nation’s largest health insurers. [Read the full article]

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President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, holding out little hope for Thursday’s televised bipartisan summit on health care, are prepared to try for a far-reaching bill in the coming weeks without a single Republican vote.

Barring an unexpected two-party breakthrough at the summit, Democratic leaders feel they can’t afford to fail, leaving them empty-handed on a huge priority in an already difficult election year. It’s far from clear they can gather the votes, however, and it will take a major effort to unite fractious Democrats.

A bipartisan compromise seems highly unlikely, members of both parties said Wednesday. [Read the full article]

As President Barack Obama’s health-care plan gets a renewed focus, insurers’ expenditures on customers’ medical bills and their own earnings have become front and center of the debate. According to a review, almost two dozen large insurers succeed in balancing high health-care spending and making a profit.

A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee yesterday started a hearing on premium increases by WellPoint subsidiary Anthem Blue Cross. The company claims that, following the loss of some healthy policyholders, it’s left with a more sickly and expensive group of customers. That means it’s lost money.

Nineteen of 587 insurers spend more than 87.9% of their premium income, the average among the industry, on medical expenses and turn a profit while returning more than the average 2.4% in income, figures through September show. [Read the full article]

Acquisition Responds to Need for More Comprehensive and Convenient Ways to Engage Employees in the Workplace and Promote Healthier Lifestyles

OptumHealth, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH – News) company, today announced it has acquired Wellness Inc., a leading worksite wellness company that provides health services through more than 1,000 employers nationwide. OptumHealth will expand its wellness programs to include innovative Wellness Inc. solutions, including worksite-based biometric screenings that help identify risk factors and detect disease in early stages.

With Wellness Inc., OptumHealth broadens its support for those employers who want more comprehensive and convenient ways to help employees manage their health. Wellness Inc. [Read the full article]

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