PacifiCare To Offer ‘HealthCredits’ To Promote Healthy Behavior
PacifiCare Health Systems on Thursday announced that it will begin a "HealthCredits" program, which will be similar to good-driver discount programs offered by automobile insurers, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Under the program, which will begin Jan. 1, all PacifiCare members except those in the Medicare+Choice plan can earn points for participating in health-promotion activities and use those points to enter into drawings for prizes or discounts on exercise equipment. The Chronicle reports that credits can be earned by participating in any of 16 activities, such as filling out a health-risk survey or joining a virtual health club that monitors members' exercise and nutrition online. While PacifiCare will not offer discounts on premiums to employers for promoting the program, PacifiCare officials hope that employers themselves will offer discounts on premiums or lower copayments for employees who participate in the program. Dr. Sam Ho, chief medical officer for PacifiCare, said that after one year, when the company has had time to evaluate HealthCredits' cost savings, it might be able to pass savings on to employers. Ho added that PacifiCare has "a lot of faith this is going to have a significant impact on improving the health statistics of participants" (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/7).
In other health insurer news, officials for Kaiser Permanente announced Thursday that the HMO will add three new Sacramento-area cancer centers by the end of 2004, ending its contract with Radiological Associates of Sacramento Medical Group, the Sacramento Bee reports. As part of its 10-year, $1.6-billion capital expansion plan for Sacramento, Kaiser will build new cancer centers in Rancho Cordova and Roseville, as well as partner with U.S. Cancer Management to build a radiation oncology center in south Sacramento, which will serve both Kaiser members and people who do not have health coverage through the company. Jack Rozance, physician-in-chief for Kaiser's Sacramento medical center, said that the move is related to a 66% membership growth rate in the Sacramento area over the last 10 years, an overall Sacramento area population increase and advances in cancer screening and treatment. "We look out a few years and don't see enough capacity for cancer treatment," Rozance said. Kaiser officials estimate that the new cancer centers should treat about 1,380 patients in their first year of operation and almost 1,700 per year by 2008. Radiological Associates provided cancer services to Sacramento-area Kaiser member for 24 years, the Bee reports. Kaiser members account for about 80 to 120 of the nearly 325 patients Radiological Associates treats in a typical day, Fred Gaschen, executive vice president of Radiological Associates, said, adding that Kaiser "is close to a third of our business, but it is our lowest-paying source of revenue other than Medi-Cal." Gaschen said that Radiological Associates will probably open new Sacramento-area cancer centers to make up for business lost from Kaiser (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 11/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.