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Some of you benefited last month from Medica’s “Premium Holiday in December”, and others certainly may have heard about it. Medica announced that all medical premiums would be slashed in half for the month of December, and amidst the joy and gratitude, suspicious flags were raised. “What are they up to?” One competing company administrator I spoke with, said, “it’s a game”. Well, perhaps some do see it as the “blue light special at Walmart”, but those that saved money last month didn’t care. Medica said, “the action is the direct result of an easing in medical cost increases, successful medical cost reduction efforts, and the company’s re cent investment performance”. Will this stir up the competition? I think so. Blue Cross did not increase their rates in the 4th quarter. HealthPartners has now gone totally “open access” to compete with their HMO adversaries. Preferred One continues to add more HRA and MSA plans and options. All the companies are finding positive results with health care support programs and the use of generic drugs (and now our governor has thrown his hat in the ring). Cost savings are being seen from the bene fits of exercise and good nutrition. This has yielded in discounts at fitness centers for members. This is exciting news and maybe we will see lower premium increases. It’s been a struggle, but it appears the trend has moderated, at least for the time being. So let’s ring in the New Year with good cheer for our Medica benefactors and a positive outlook for medical premiums in 2004. Happy New Year!

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