HHS warns of double-digit spike in health premiums

Consumers are facing budget-busting increases in medical insurance premiums, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday, releasing a report the Obama administration hopes will tap public outrage and help revive its stalled health care overhaul.

People buying their own insurance in at least six states have been facing pressure from insurers to raise rates by as much 56 percent, the report said. Officials said the problem is likely to be more widespread, but data from individual insurers in different states is difficult to obtain.

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The Democratic health care bills would lower costs for many consumers by offering government subsidies to most of those buying their own coverage. Premiums would remain high, but insurers would face greater government scrutiny when they try to raise rates. [Read the full article]

Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM – News) announced recently that it intends to reduce its workforce by approximately 5% (1,400 jobs on a net basis) in 2010 due to a reduction in enrollment. Jobs will be cut through a combination of attrition, process efficiencies, outsourcing and position eliminations.

On a gross basis, the insurance giant intends to cut 2,500 jobs nationwide in 2010. However, during the course of the year the company intends to add about 1,100 jobs in areas such as medical cost containment capabilities, pharmacy management and specialty products.

Humana announced further that all employees impacted by the workforce reduction will have a 2 month transition period at the company. Furthermore, those failing to secure another position within the company will be offered a severance package and their health and other benefits will be continued.

The jobs cut is necessitated by the drop in medical enrollment at Humana in fiscal 2009. [Read the full article]

National Imaging Associates (NIA), a Magellan Health Services (Nasdaq:MGLN – News) company, today applauded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its leadership and progress in addressing the issue of radiation overexposure through its Initiative to Reduce Unnecessary Radiation Exposure from Medical Imaging.

This multi-pronged initiative targets the utilization of computed tomography (CT), fluoroscopy and nuclear medicine” the greatest contributors to total radiation exposure within the U.S.” through a collaborative effort intended to promote the safe use of medical imaging devices, support informed clinical decision making, and increase patient awareness. [Read the full article]

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