Georgia is a testing ground for new product designs for group and individual buyers. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia has introduced new products geared to those who want coverage for essentials, with one of the options excluding brand-name drug coverage. At the same time, Kaiser Permanente, known for its integrated HMO model, has introduced 11 high-deductible HMO designs with a variety of coverage levels and deductibles. Another competitor in Georgia, Aetna, is off to a rapid start in 2009 with net growth of almost 85,000 commercial members in the first three months of the year. In Alabama, the Medicaid Agency is hoping a disease management program targeting asthma and diabetes in seven counties will improve care and cut costs. Meanwhile, it appears that Louisiana's shift to managed care plans for its Medicaid program will occur later than expected as approval from the federal government was still pending in early May 2009. The new law that extends the Children's Health Insurance Program for four more years will add as many as 140,000 children onto health insurance benefits in Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana, meaning the states have the money to enroll children who meet the income eligibility.


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