Largest health care plan in the state announces merger

Herald staff

Northwest Washington Medical Bureau, a health plan serving 110,000 patients in Island, Skagit, Whatcom and San Juan counties, is merging with Regence BlueShield, officials said Thursday.

The merger, expected by year’s end, must be approved by physicians who are part of the medical bureau as well as by government regulators.

Regence, the state’s largest health plan, now provides health care coverage to 1.2 million members.

  • Allen steps down: Billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen will not seek reappointment to the company’s board, but will remain an adviser to fellow co-founder Bill Gates, the company said Thursday. Allen, the world’s third-richest man with an estimated net worth of $36 billion, will leave the board Nov. 9.

  • Wrong rates: Annual interest rates paid for a certificate of deposit at First Mutual Bank include 6.25 percent for six months, 6.75 percent for a year and 6.25 percent for five years. A chart published Thursday contained incorrect information.

  • Thursday prices: Gold sold for $276.40 a troy ounce, silver for $4.975 and platinum for $569.70.

  • Ford picks Michelin: With customers refusing to accept Firestone tires, Ford Motor Co. said Thursday that other brands will be available for upcoming models of its Explorer sport utility vehicle. Ford has lined up Michelin and is in talks with Goodyear, Ford spokeswoman Della DiPietro said. The moves put more distance between Ford’s flagship product and Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., which had been the sole supplier of Explorer tires. The images of both companies have been battered by a recall of tires types linked to at least 101 deaths and 400 injuries.
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