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Archive for Saturday, January 26, 2002

Anthem offers to stabilize premiums

Fund would give $25 million to small businesses if Blue Cross sale is approved

January 26, 2002

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— The company trying to buy Kansas' largest health insurance provider has offered $25 million to stabilize premiums for small businesses if the transaction is approved.

The establishment of the fund, announced Friday, addresses concerns that insurance rates may rise more quickly if Indianapolis-based Anthem Insurance Companies Inc. acquires Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas.



"We felt that the issue of premiums for Kansas small businesses was of concern and we could address it proactively," Anthem executive vice president David Frick said.

The fund would be administered by the Kansas insurance commissioner and distributed on a sliding scale over five years, with $10 million available the first year.

Anthem has bought Blue Cross and Blue Shield providers in eight other states, which imposed conditions on the sales. The fund is an attempt to address an area of concern in Kansas.

"It wasn't necessary for Anthem BCBS to make this offer," said Michael Mattox, executive vice president of Kansas Blue Cross. "But they want all Kansans to know they are here for the long haul."

Opponents of the sale have filed a list of 15 conditions they want imposed on the company if the deal goes through.

"I think this is a self-imposed condition," said Terri Roberts, executive director of the Kansas State Nurses Assn. "It would address one of the issues, but the overall proposal is not in the best interest of Kansas."

Shareholders of Kansas Blue Cross have approved the sale, but the final decision rests with Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Sebelius, who plans to decide by late February.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas covers 715,000 Kansans, or one-third of the population in 103 of 105 Kansas counties. Johnson and Wyandotte counties are served by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City. The company also administers health care to about 800,000 people under Medicare and Medicaid contracts.

Anthem provides Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance to 7.5 million people in Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire and Ohio.

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