June 20, 2019

Anthem rebuffs request

PORTLAND — The Indianapolis company that wants to buy Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maine has declined to provide information about its managed care plans to a newspaper.

Anthem Inc. rejected a request by the Portland Press Herald to provide data on its plans in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.

The data, which are compiled and scored by the nonprofit National Committee for Quality Assurance, include categories such as customer satisfaction, claims processing and preventive medicine, such as breast cancer screening. The score is compiled so members of the public can compare health maintenance organizations.

Anthem has publicly released NCQA data for the Blue Cross plan it acquired in Connecticut two years ago, but won’t release information on the company’s Midwest operations.

Lauren Green-Caldwell, a spokeswoman for Anthem, defended the decision by saying customers in the Midwest have shown little interest in those reports on Anthem’s HMOs, and that HMOs make up a small part of the insurance market there.

She also said HMOs in various parts of the country perform differently.

“Anthem believes you need to look at the needs of your region,” she said.

Brian Schilling, a spokesman for the NCQA, agreed that regional differences exist.

He also said HMOs that report the data tend to be the top performers in the industry. The ones that report also have shown improved performance over the past few years.

“This information should be right in every member’s face,” he said. “But some plans aren’t going to do it unless they feel pressured.”

The acquisition must be approved by the attorney general and Bureau of Insurance. A formal filing is expected in September, and public hearings are likely next year.

Anthem is a fast-growing mutual company with 5 million Blue Cross members in four states. The company is building a regional presence in New England and is also trying to buy Blue Cross plans in Colorado and Nevada.

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