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Death rates after heart bypass surgery dropped 43 percent between 2000 and 2006, according to a recent Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality “News and Numbers” report. The proportion of patients who died in the hospital after undergoing the procedure fell from 42 per 1,000 admissions to 24 per 1,000. Rural hospitals reported the greatest improvement (92 percent), although their death rate of 38 deaths per 1,000 admissions was still higher than for other hospitals.... California regulators approved WellPoint’s plan to raise rates for individual health insurance policies by an average of 14 percent. WellPoint’s initial bid to increase the rate to 25 percent for 600,000 members drew heavy criticism earlier this year. The company, which is the largest U.S. health insurer by membership, says it intends to put the new rates into effect on Oct. 1.... The National Association of Insurance Commissioners voted to approve a guideline that would require large-group insurance plans to spend at least 85 percent of premiums collected on medical expenses, as opposed to administrative expenses. Small-group plans must spend 80 percent on medical expenses. The industry criticized the NAIC for adopting “a narrow category for what health plans count as medical care and quality improvements when calculating medical loss ratios.”

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