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ARCHIVED  July 1, 1997

Editorial: We’ll be watching HSI/Blue Cross deal to ensure fair shake

HSI Health Plans Inc.’s proposed sale to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Colorado bears extra scrutiny, given the health plan’s long history and dominant role within this community.

That scrutiny is especially appropriate given Blue Cross’ application with the Colorado Division of Insurance to convert to for-profit status. By state law, an amount equal to the company’s value must be transferred to a separate foundation; in this case, that’s to one focused on children’s health issues and the general health needs of Coloradans.

Even so, it’s a lot different for residents of Fort Collins and surrounding communities to support a home-town health-insurance carrier with local control than it is to sign on with a Denver-based megalith. Such support will be offered not without much investigation and shopping around.

HSI’s reasons for seeking a buyer are understandable. For a small insurer to survive in a market dominated by the PacifiCares and Blue Crosses of the world is almost impossible. The costs of building a provider network mean little carriers will be swallowed up. One analyst predicts that whereas we now have 20 or so health-maintenance organizations in Colorado, in a few years we’ll have perhaps half a dozen. The economics are clear.

Nonetheless, the HSI/Blue Cross deal must be examined with great care to ensure that this community’s needs are considered and to ensure that we receive our fair share of benefits when the Blue Cross foundation is established.

And Blue Cross, which has not laid claim to the best customer service in recent years should be forwarned: None of us in Northern Colorado will tolerate a retrenchment from the community-minded health plan we’ve enjoyed for decades, nor will we look favorably on any attempts to slash long-standing programs.

Given the heightened state of competition in health care these days, we can shop around.

HSI Health Plans Inc.’s proposed sale to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Colorado bears extra scrutiny, given the health plan’s long history and dominant role within this community.

That scrutiny is especially appropriate given Blue Cross’ application with the Colorado Division of Insurance to convert to for-profit status. By state law, an amount equal to the company’s value must be transferred to a separate foundation; in this case, that’s to one focused on children’s health issues and the general health needs of Coloradans.

Even so, it’s a lot different for residents of Fort Collins and surrounding communities to support a home-town health-insurance…

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