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BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH CAROLINA MAKES BASICARE GROUP COVERAGE AVAILABLE STATEWIDE

 BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH CAROLINA
 MAKES BASICARE GROUP COVERAGE AVAILABLE STATEWIDE
 DURHAM, N.C., Dec. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- After 10 weeks of marketing BasiCare health insurance to groups in eastern North Carolina, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, the state's largest health insurer, has begun offering its two group coverages to small companies statewide. Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the state's only not-for-profit health insurer, said the move came as a result of the interest shown in the group plan from companies throughout North Carolina and the steadily increasing number of applicants for the four individual BasiCare packages.
 As of Dec. 10, the company had offered BasiCare proposals to 24 businesses in eastern North Carolina, and sold three group policies that cover 91 employees -- 24 percent of whom were previously uninsured. Two of the new BasiCare groups are transfers from existing Blue Cross and Blue Shield contracts, which means they had to experience little or no underwriting, and include companies that otherwise may have had to drop health coverage due to costs.
 In addition, more than 800 North Carolinians have applied for BasiCare individual coverage, 85 percent of whom indicated that they had no health insurance at the time they applied. Blue Cross and Blue Shield has enrolled 508 people, with 301 additional applications in review for enrollment.
 Approximately 5 percent of those who applied for BasiCare individual were referred to the company's Access plan, which offers coverage to those who otherwise are medically uninsurable.
 BasiCare, launched last Sept. 16, is the first low-cost health insurance initiative in North Carolina. Since then, Blue Cross and Blue Shield has rolled out a multi-faceted statewide information campaign to help raise awareness among the state's opinion leaders of the plight of the uninsured. By early 1992, company executives and managers will have addressed nearly 50 business, civic, and city chamber groups on the issues surrounding the medically uninsured.
 In addition to interest from businesses around the state, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina said that the decision to expand the BasiCare group offering was based on demand from the company's brokers and the product's compatible administrative procedures with the BasiCare individual packages.
 "We have been very pleased with the public response for both group and individual versions of BasiCare. And by making our state leaders more aware of all the circumstances that contribute to limited health care access, we are contributing to a positive step towards making the situation better for everyone in North Carolina," said A. Roger Philyaw, senior vice president of marketing for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. "There may always be detractors to BasiCare. But the fact remains that because of BasiCare, 599 North Carolinians who were previously without medical insurance are today under the protective umbrella of preventive health care coverage, and we sincerely hope that the many others who need this will follow."
 Due to the complex composition of any particular group, the group underwriting process usually takes several weeks longer than the process of evaluation for individuals. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has offered nine BasiCare plans to new groups (those not currently covered by the company), representing 1,200 employees. Along with the three groups which have already committed to transferring to BasiCare, the company has offered policies to 11 other groups, representing 1,450 employees.
 Taff Office Equipment, a 47-year-old office supplies company based in Greenville, N.C., is typical of the business-group profile Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina expects will be interested in BasiCare. Although the office supplies company had group insurance with another carrier, Taff feels that BasiCare more appropriately meets the needs of its 19 employees.
 "Because of the sharp rate increase, we could not afford to continue with our previous group policy," said Melody Roughton, bookkeeper for Taff Office Equipment. "BasiCare is about $800 less per month and has no deductible, so all of our employees will get more use out of their new coverage. Many of our employees were unable to fully utilize the benefits of our previous policy; only about one employee a year was able to reach the $500 deductible."
 BasiCare is one of the first basic health insurance packages created with guidance from the uninsured. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina spent more than a year conducting research and focus group studies with uninsured North Carolinians that resulted in a nontraditional approach to designing a health benefits package. Unlike traditional health insurance options, the company created BasiCare from the ground up, with benefits requested by the uninsured, at a price they felt they could afford to pay.
 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina was founded in 1933 and is the state's oldest and largest health insurer. The company privately insures 1.75 million North Carolinians and serves another 878,000 people through the administration of Medicare benefits for the federal government.
 -0- 12/11/91
 /CONTACT: Kathy Higgins of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, 919-490-4104, or Joel Curran of Price-McNabb Public Relations, 919-828-1440, for Blue Cross and Blue Shield/ CO: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina ST: North Carolina IN: INS SU: PDT


CM -- CH001 -- 1304 12/11/91 08:04 EST
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Date:Dec 11, 1991
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