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Health plans blame prudent layman laws for an upsurge in ER visits in the last two years. American Medical News states that Aetna U.S. Healthcare, Cigna, and Humana all report double-digit increases in ER volume, while United Healthcare has charted a 20-percent jump.... PacifiCare will reduce its reliance on Medicare and put more emphasis on prescription drug management to help itself out of its doldrums .... Smaller PPOs' discounts for primary care networks average 29.1 percent, while national PPOs get an average 37.5-percent discount, according to InterStudy Publications.... The most cost-effective strategy for colorectal cancer screening is annual fecal occult blood testing plus sigmoidoscopy every five years, says a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. ... Physicians in staff- and group-model plans tend to view guidelines and formularies as tools that ease practice, while independent physicians largely view them as making their jobs harder, according to an Archives of Internal Medicine report.

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