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UnitedHealth, Humana plan to keep overhaul elements

Updated: July 13, 2012 6:10AM

UnitedHealth Group and Humana Inc. plan to continue offering some popular health care benefits required under the Obama administration health care reform law, even if the Supreme Court strikes down the law, the insurers said Monday.

UnitedHealth, the nation’s largest health insurer with 1 million members in Illinois among 35 million nationally, said members will continue to receive preventive health care services without co-pays, including immunizations and screening for high blood pressure and diabetes.

The insurers also said that, among other benefits now required under the reform law, they will continue to:

◆ Provide dependent coverage up to age 26.

◆ Maintain their policies of not imposing lifetime limits.

◆ Maintain their policies of not canceling a person’s coverage retroactively, so-called “rescissions” of coverage, except as provided for under the law, such as in cases of fraud.

Chicago-based Health Care Service Corp., whose Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois has nearly 7 million members, “is awaiting the Supreme Court decision” to decide what it will do, said a spokesman.

None of the continuing provisions will be free for consumers. Insurers have already factored them into the premium, or the cost of the insurance coverage. They probably add about 3 percent to that bill depending on the type of coverage, said Bob Laszewski, a consultant and former insurance executive.

“It would probably be more trouble to roll these things back than go ahead with them,” Laszewski said. “It just makes common sense to leave these things in there and not take these benefits away since they’re already priced in.”

“The protections we are voluntarily extending are good for people’s health, promote broader access to quality care and contribute to helping control rising health care costs,” UnitedHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hemsley said in a statement.

Louisville-based Humana said in a statement it “believes its health plan members should have the peace of mind of knowing the company embraces and will maintain these common-sense provisions that add stability and security to health care coverage.”

Humana has 500,000 members in Illinois, among 1.8 million members nationally.

Laszewski expects other insurers and large employers who provide coverage to take the same approach.

Contributing: AP

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