Small health insurers at risk; Chronic conditions cost big bucks

> Smaller health insurers may not have the financial cushion needed to survive under health reform, reports Jupiter, Fla.-based Weiss Ratings. In a study of 585 health insurers, 48 percent received a Weiss rating of fair (31.8 percent) or weak (16.2 percent), but none of the nation's 16 largest health insurers fell into those financially precarious categories. Report

> Americans with multiple chronic conditions have significantly higher healthcare costs than those who don't. In 2006, individuals 65 or older with five or more chronic conditions had average healthcare costs of $25,132 vs. $5,186 for older Americans with no chronic conditions, according to Older Americans 2010: Key Indicators of Well-Being. Report

> The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has posted its annual state-by-state look at healthcare quality, with the added twist of tying data to the payment source (e.g., private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid). FierceHealthcare

> In the face of media interest, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas in Richardson will join other major health insurers in the state and begin paying physician overhead costs of about $20 per dose for the infant vaccine Prevnar 13, reports the Texas Tribune. Article

> Health insurers in the Philadelphia area have seen a surge in the individual market, with UnitedHealth Group's Golden Rule Insurance Co. telling the Philadelphia Business Journal that first-quarter 2010 applications for individual and short-term plans climbed 47 percent over first-quarter 2009, while membership increased by 50 percent. Article

> The cholesterol screening rate among young adults is less than 50 percent even though up to 26 percent have elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and about 55 percent have at least one risk factor for coronary heart disease, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Press release

> The U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa, Fla., appears to be investigating whether WellCare Health Plans is the only Medicaid HMO that hasn't played fair with the state's Medicaid program in the past few years, reports Health News Florida. Article

> Florida Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum has broken from the Republican pack seeking to transition the state's Medicaid program to managed care. Instead, McCollum is calling for the state to transition to a patient-centered medical home platform, reports the Florida Tribune. Article

> The Fox Insurance Co. in Alexandria, Va., which was terminated from the Medicare Part D prescription drug program earlier this year, has begun to repay millions of dollars in languishing unpaid claims following pressure from the government, reports Healthcare Finance News. Article

And Finally ...  My new hero--and fashion icon--in one leafy package. Article