Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Tristate Summary

Fewer enrolled in HMOs in Ohio

Enrollment in Ohio's HMOs decreased sharply in 2001 and the first half of 2002 as more health maintenance organizations dropped their Medicare plans and employers facing large premium increases sought other health benefit options, according to a report.

But state health plans became profitable again in 2001 after two years of losses, helped by those premium increases that averaged 17 percent, said Allan Baumgarten, a health care analyst from Minnesota who prepared the sixth annual report on the health of HMOs in Ohio.

"They have had these double digit increases in premiums the last two years and that is what is driving them," Mr. Baumgarten said.

The report was compiled from annual and quarterly HMO statements filed with the Ohio Department of Insurance. It was released last month at a conference of the Ohio Association of Health Plans.

Enrollment in HMOs nearly doubled from 1.5 million in 1992 to peak at 2.8 million in 1999.

Enrollment has fallen 11.2 percent since the end of 2000, down to 2.3 million in the first half of 2002.

Utility to pass on clean-air costs

Evansville, Ind.-based Vectren Corp. is adding pollution controls at its four largest generating units.

The controls would remove ozone-causing nitrogen oxide pollution from the utility's coal-burning generators, which produce electricity.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has agreed to allow Vectren to continue phasing in the cost to its customers even though the entire project is now estimated to cost $244 million.

The utility commission originally had approved a Vectren plan to pass the estimated $198 million project cost on to consumers.

Typical residential customers already are paying $1.40 per month more, reflecting Vectren's cost to pay for $39 million of the pollution controls in 2002.

The next anticipated rate increase likely will come in March.

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