MANAGED CARE February 1998. ©1998 Stezzi Communications
NEWS AND COMMENTARY
Benefits News: Fertility, Vision Gain Attention
Aetna U.S. Healthcare has done an about-face on infertility benefits, after saying
it would eliminate coverage for in-vitro fertilization and several other high-tech
procedures. Less than a week after its announcement--which elicited outrage from
physicians and from infertile couples--the HMO said it would reinstate benefits as
an option in states that do not mandate coverage.
The HMO said too many women joined it to obtain coverage, then left the program.
- Independence Blue Cross one-upped its competition by offering free eyeglasses
as part of its core plan. Independent optometrists worry that many of IBC's
1.6 million members will shun them for free specs from a Blues subsidiary.
- Following recommendations of a National Institutes of Health panel, Finger
Lakes [N.Y.] Blue Cross and Blue Shield now covers NIH-approved uses of acupuncture.
In November, NIH blessed acupuncture as effective for relieving post-operative
dental pain, and pregnancy- and chemotherapy-induced nausea.
- Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and United HealthCare of California now cover
Cytyc's ThinPrep Pap test. The procedure may reduce the need for costly follow-up
after abnormal tests.
- Medicare risk enrollees are entitled to refer themselves for mammography
screenings, says the Health Care Financing Administration. Clarifying new
regulations on screening mammography, HCFA told managed care plans that they
must follow Medicare fee-for-service rules, under which referrals for screenings