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BCWP'S 'SPECIAL CARE' PROGRAM TO BE REPLICATED STATEWIDE BY BLUE CROSS/BLUE SHIELD PLANS

 BCWP'S 'SPECIAL CARE' PROGRAM TO BE REPLICATED STATEWIDE
 BY BLUE CROSS/BLUE SHIELD PLANS
 PITTSBURGH, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- When Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania (BCWP) introduced its "Special Care" program in 1990, it targeted the region's uninsured population.
 Since then, not only has the program provided coverage for 16,000 western Pennsylvanians, it has also served as a catalyst for the development of a new statewide Special Care program.
 BCWP, in conjunction with the state's other Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, today announced the filing of a statewide Special Care program for approval with the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.
 Blue Cross and Blue Shield representatives made the official announcement this morning during a news conference in Harrisburg, Pa. It is expected the program could be available as early as March.
 BCWP first introduced Special Care to the western Pennsylvania community in
July 1990. A key element in creating the program was the cooperation of area hospitals, which agreed to accept a substantially reduced percentage of their usual Blue Cross reimbursement rate.
 With the new statewide program, hospitals and physicians throughout the state will accept lower-than-usual payments, while the Pennsylvania Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans will subsidize the program to offset the cost for purchasers. BCWP's subsidy will be $2.6 million.
 "Making affordable health care coverage available to everyone is the cornerstone of our corporate mission," explained BCWP's Gus P. Georgiadis, corporate vice president. "The new statewide Special Care program is another positive step toward providing needed coverage to those who don't have health insurance."
 Special Care is designed to offer low-cost health care coverage for the "working uninsured" -- those under age 65 earning too much to qualify for government programs, not covered by employer group plans, and unable to afford other coverage.
 The new statewide product, which would replace the current BCWP Special Care program, incorporates many of the existing benefits, offers a Blue Shield companion product, and lowers the product cost for most coverage categories in the Blue Cross component.
 Importantly, the program covers essential hospitalization and professional health care services in full, meaning it will not require deductibles.
 The revised Blue Cross benefits include: 21 inpatient days per benefit period; emergency accident and medical treatment; an increase in diagnostic services ($1,000 per subscriber per calendar year); annual PAP test; unlimited outpatient surgery; hospital services for maternity admission; and new benefits, radiation therapy and mammography.
 The new Blue Shield Special Care provides the following benefits: home and office visits (four per covered individual per year); basic pediatric services such as immunizations; all medically necessary inpatient and outpatient surgery; diagnostic services; maternity and routine newborn medical care.
 Eligibility will be based on income guidelines that BCWP adjusted recently in order to offer increased access to coverage.
 In Pennsylvania, the Medicaid income ceiling for a family of four is $6,800. As a result of this tightened restriction governing eligibility, only half of the families below the federally established family poverty income level ($13,400) qualify for Medicaid.
 "With Special Care, people no longer need to postpone treatment," Georgiadis said. "This prevents more serious, costly illnesses later. The preventive services provided in the program reinforce our belief that prevention is a key to controlling health care costs."
 Current BCWP Special Care subscribers will receive written information about the enhancements and their added options.
 Until the new product is available, western Pennsylvanians can continue to enroll in the current BCWP Special Care program.
 For further information, call 1-800-544-6679.
 Maximum income guidelines and proposed monthly premiums are:
 Income Blue Cross Blue Shield Total
 One adult $12,000 $31.55 $28.45 $60.00
 One adult with
 one child 16,000 46.10 42.70 88.80
 One adult with two
 children 20,000 46.10 42.70 88.80
 One adult with
 three or more
 children 24,000 46.10 42.70 88.80
 Two adults 16,000 63.10 56.90 120.00
 Two adults with
 one child 20,000 77.70 71.15 148.85
 Two adults with
 two or more
 children 24,000 77.70 71.15 148.85
 -0- 1/14/92 R
 /CONTACT: John McDermott, 412-255-8247, or Diane Wuycheck, 412-255-7697, both of Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania/ CO: Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania ST: Pennsylvania IN: HEA SU:


DM -- PG004R -- 0033 01/15/92 13:16 EST
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Date:Jan 15, 1992
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