NU Online News Service, Nov. 10, 2003, 4:28 p.m. EST – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Boston, says it will try to boost the Bay State job market by cutting its targeted 2004 operating profit to 1%, from 2% this year.

Massachusetts Blue says the reduction will let it hold rate increases to less than 10% for more than half of the small groups that renew policies during the first quarter of 2004.

Massachusetts Blue is a nonprofit health insurer that provides or administers medical coverage for 2.5 million people. It competes in a market dominated by other large, nonprofit health insurers.

Holding down health insurance rate increases could encourage employers to hire more aggressively, and disease management programs and other successful cost-control efforts have helped Massachusetts Blue do better this year than it had originally expected, the company says.