HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care industry intelligence, finds that although national giant WellPoint Inc. is making a major move into New York with the acquisition of five-million-member WellChoice Inc., it will be a few years before insurers in the area feel the pinch. According to the latest issue of TriState Health Plan Analysis WellChoice operates the state's largest plan, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield.

"Despite the fact that WellPoint's move brings its national showdown with UnitedHealth Group to New York, it will be some time before consolidation affects any of the local players," said Micaela Brown, HealthLeaders- InterStudy analyst. "New York's insurance market is huge and WellPoint had little presence in the local market before it acquired WellChoice, so the immediate impact on competition is small. WellPoint is the nation's largest insurer, with 33 million members with the WellChoice acquisition, while United is second largest, with 23.3 million members.

The long-term picture, however, is different. Eventually mid-tier players like Aetna and CIGNA, as well as smaller regional health plans like HealthNow, are going to be squeezed by consolidation.

"Mergers are far from over and many plans are currently developing defensive competitive strategies for the future such as developing distinctive healthcare products, exploring product lines outside of traditional commercial insurance and forming alliances with other plans," explained Brown.

  Other health plan news in the TriState region:   * Health plans are focusing on group retiree business now that the     Medicare program has been reshaped.   * Capital District Physicians' Health Plan says it is the first insurer in     the Albany region to offer free preventive healthcare across all of its     commercial product lines-a move that could inspire other plans to do the     same.    About Health Plan Analysis 

Health Plan Analysis identifies key health plan trends, allowing healthcare businesses to create comprehensive strategic plans and sales strategies at state and local levels.

About HealthLeaders-InterStudy

HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a company of Decision Resources, Inc. (http://www.decisionresources.com/), is the authoritative source for managed care data and analysis. For more information, please visit http://www.healthleaders-interstudy.com/.

All company, brand, or product names contained in this document may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

  Alex Jablokow   Decision Resources   781-296-2562   ajablokow@dresources.com 

SOURCE: HealthLeaders-InterStudy

CONTACT: Alex Jablokow of Decision Resources, +1-781-296-2562,
ajablokow@dresources.com

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