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 are unnecessary.