"If the court says this practice is illegal, it could open up competition to any Blue Cross plan
that wants to compete in that part of the country," said Prof.
Membership in Blue Cross plans
dropped to 2.8 million from 2.9 million, partly because of the economy.
* SMS - Shared Medical Systems was one of many companies (along with dozens of Blue Cross plans
and hospital associations around the country) that acquired SHAS and sold it to well over a thousand hospitals nationwide.
The new policy is expected to be implemented by the end of the year at Illinois Blue Cross and three other Blue Cross plans
operating under the Illinois plan's parent company, Chicago-based Health Care Service Corp.
WellPoint, the owner of Blue Cross plans
in 14 states, sparked an industry-wide sell-off and lost $10.1 billion in market value on March 10 after revising its earnings forecast because it enrolled fewer customers than planned and had unanticipated claims costs.
Blue Cross plans
in several other states are reported to be experimenting with 90-day in-store programs.
Blue Cross of California was one of the first Blue Cross plans
to convert--first trading publicly on the New York Stock Exchange in 1993 and undergoing recapitalization in 1996.