Blue Cross challenges state's switch to UnitedHealth

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska is challenging the state's decision to switch insurance companies for state employees to UnitedHealth--a decision worth $184 million annually.

Nebraska on Wednesday announced that it is awarding UnitedHealth with a contract to administer a health plan for state employees, reported the Associated Press. "United is going to save us a substantial amount of money year after year," Department of Administrative Services Director Carlos Castillo said. "It's about 5 percent, $8 million a year on average."

Blue Cross, however, disputes the state's cost analysis. It said that by switching to UnitedHealth, Nebraska actually would incur an additional $10 million annually because of UnitedHealth's limited provider network. Blue Cross also claimed that UnitedHealth's proposal excluded all claims costing more than $75,000, as well as all mental health/substance abuse claims, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

"We are disappointed with the state's decision and believe this will cost taxpayers more, not less," said Brian Pickering, vice president of communications for Blue Cross Blue Shield. "We are simply asking the state of Nebraska to reconsider their decision and use industry standards for making a decision of this magnitude that impacts all Nebraskans," Pickering said.

Therefore, Blue Cross said it will file a protest of Nebraska's decision, which is scheduled to take effect July 1, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

To learn more:
- see the Omaha World-Herald article
- read the Associated Press article
- check out the Lincoln Journal Star article