Georgia, Alabama & Louisiana | Fall | 2008 | Health Plan Analysis

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is Goliath in that state's insurance arena, but national plans are picking up Alabama members too. The insurance market is widening in Huntsville and Mobile to include big, high-tech businesses that are bringing hundreds of new employees accustomed to national health insurors with multiple offerings. In addition, plans such as CIGNA Healthcare are carving a niche with consumer-driven health plans and wellness programs. Also in Alabama, the state is embroiled in a series of court cases against 73 of the nation's pharmaceutical giants, claiming they overcharged Medicaid for prescription drugs. The companies are defending themselves in a variety of ways, saying the state claims are pre-empted by federal law or fall under the statute of limitations. So far, the court isn't buying these arguments and has found in favor of the state in the three suits heard thus far, awarding Alabama Medicaid $329 million in damages. Meanwhile, other states have brought similar suits. Healthcare spending is a big issue in Georgia and threatens to become even bigger next year as state officials consider putting a 3 percent premium tax on commercial health plans to help pay their Medicaid bills. With economic problems looming large, the state faces a $113 million Medicaid budget reduction. Meanwhile, Georgia plans to tie the results of an upcoming audit on disease management among its three care management organizations as factors in assigning new members to the plans.