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Insurance Program Developed After Months of Deliberation, Consultation
 AKRON, Ohio, March 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The Akron Regional Development Board (ARDB) has selected Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Ohio (BCBSO) to insure its 1,000 member companies with a variety of products expected to result in significant savings over current costs.
 The new program became available to members in Medina, Portage and Summit counties in January of this year, said Richard W. Young, ARDB president.
 On March 9 at the Sheraton Suites in Cuyahoga Falls, ARDB, along with Employers Select Plan (ESP) and BCBSO, held its first seminar to update brokers on the products being offered to small businesses in the tri-county area. Among those who attended were John Burry, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of BCBSO, and Edward Hartzell, BCBSO executive vice president, sales and customer relations.
 "We're excited about the program for a couple of reasons," Young said. "We've done member surveys over the past four years that told us controlling health insurance costs is a major business issue. This program is going to help us help our members control those costs.
 "In addition, we believe it will be attractive enough to eligible employers in the tri-county area to increase the size of our membership."
 Added Young, "While it's clearly not our primary goal, increased membership would benefit ARDB as the sponsoring organization, and it would also benefit our members by enlarging the size of the insured pool."
 ARDB is a non-profit organization providing investment funds, volunteers and resources to member companies in the Medina, Portage and Summit counties. Its mission is to promote and facilitate economic and business growth of the tri-county area.
 Member companies with at least one, but not more than 150 employees, are eligible for the program. One thousand companies currently participate in ARDB. Young said ARDB's plan is not unlike that pioneered by the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association, which has been acclaimed nationwide for its ability to make affordable health insurance available to a large number of people.
 But, he added, there are also differences. Among them are that its package will be sold only through independent brokers who are also ARDB members. And, it will be administered in Akron by Employers Select Plan, an independent broker service and marketing organization which represents a variety of health insurance carriers.
 BCBSO was chosen from among several other companies in a process involving ESP that began last May.
 "We are delighted to have been selected by the Akron Regional Development Board," said John Burry, Jr., BCBSO chairman and chief executive officer. "Dick Young and his group have worked very hard for several months to create an innovative program that will hold down the healthcare inflation spiral for their members.
 "Coupled with our long experience in managing healthcare benefits programs through associations and consortiums, I don't think there's any question that we and the Akron Regional Development Board have created a relationship that can benefit all concerned for many years to come."
 Added Burry, "Bringing groups together in associations such as the ARDB and providing a healthcare management program takes us back to the very dawn of the health insurance concept, when communities sponsored affordable programs through the creation of Blue Cross and, later Blue Shield plans."
 According to Barbara Evans, ARDB director of marketing, the new program includes:
 -- BCBSO's popular Super Blue product, featuring a preferred provider hospital panel which offers significant incentives to patients who use participating hospitals.
 -- HMO Health Ohio.
 -- Traditional BCBSO health coverage, with three deductible and out- of-pocket maximum limitation options.
 -- Life and Accidental Death and Disability Insurance from Medical Life Insurance Company.
 -- Medifil, which supplements Medicare coverage for eligible members.
 -- Dental coverage for eligible groups.
 -- Vision care.
 -- The COBRAServ option to help employers comply with COBRA regulations for health coverage continuation.
 Savings for a given group will depend on which plan it selects, Evans pointed out.
 Evans said anyone interested in the new program may receive additional information or a packet of materials by calling 216-376-5550 in Akron and asking for "HEALTHCARE."
 -0- 3/10/93
 /CONTACT: David Eden of William Silverman & Co., 216-696-7750, for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Ohio/

CO: Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Ohio ST: Ohio IN: INS SU:

KK -- CL008 -- 4862 03/10/93 10:21 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 10, 1993

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