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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Introduces Lower-cost Health Plans for Individuals.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., July 17 /PRNewswire/ -- For many Floridians, the only health insurance available is a policy they buy on their own. This is the "individual" insurance market and it plays an important role in providing access to health care. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida today begins aggressively reaching out to that market with a television ad campaign promoting premiums significantly lower than the company's most popular conventional product.
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Comparing premiums to "about what you'd pay for your cell phone," or "like your cable TV bill," the campaign announces the extension of the company's lower-cost BlueOptions products from the small business market to individuals. Lower-cost products for small businesses were introduced with a "50% Off" ad campaign that began in May.

These lower-cost individual plans range from those with predictable co- payments for covered family physician office visits and 50 percent co- insurance, to those that primarily provide catastrophic coverage for hospitalization, surgeries and related services.

"Individual plans are medically underwritten," said Craig Thomas, vice president of marketing operations, BCBSF, "so a person's premium depends upon his or her health status, family size, age and a number of other factors. But many people are now in the individual market because their employers dropped employee health benefits. Also, many young adults think they're invincible and don't want to invest heavily in health insurance. Our mission mandates that we enhance access to affordable health care for all Floridians, so we had to address costs for this market as well as for small businesses."

These new lower-cost BlueOptions plans reflect the results of a year's worth of market research, Thomas said, into what benefits individuals and small businesses believed they needed, and how much they could pay. The result, he said: significantly lower price points and tailored benefits that best meet diverse needs.

The products fall into four general categories:

* Hospital/surgical plans that cover inpatient hospitalizations and outpatient surgeries in hospitals or other settings. These plans provide protection against the most costly major medical events.

* HSA-compatible plans offering comprehensive physician visit and hospital coverage, with a deductible, co-insurance on all services and the standard tax advantage of an HSA.

* 50/50 Family Physician plans that provide comprehensive coverage, with co-payments for family physician office and wellness visits and generic drugs. For other services, the members pays 50 percent of BCBSF's negotiated rate after a deductible is met.

* Conventional plans in addition to the existing range of BlueOptions plans that provide comprehensive coverage with calendar year deductibles and co-insurance or co-payments for most services.

The lower-cost plans offer the same significant BCBSF advantages as all BlueOptions plans. They do not require referrals to see specialists, and members can see any provider in BCBSF's large provider network, in Florida and worldwide. Every BlueOptions plan includes:

* Industry leading customer service

* A quarterly Personal Health Report to help consumers take an active role in making informed decisions about their health care choices for themselves and their families

* Personal health coaches by phone or online to help members understand treatment options
 * MyActiveRewards program, which rewards members for healthy behaviors
 * The ability to e-mail one's doctor

* Blue Complements, which provides discount programs for hearing aids, fitness clubs and alternative medicines, and easy to use technology to help employees manage their own health dollars

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida is a leader in Florida's health industry. BCBSF and its subsidiaries serve more than 8.3 million people. Since 1944, the company has been dedicated to meeting the diverse needs of all those it serves by offering an array of choices. BCBSF is a not-for-profit, policyholder-owned, tax-paying mutual company. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., BCBSF is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information concerning BCBSF, please see its Web site at .

CONTACT: Valerie Rubin, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, +1-904-905-5315, or cellular, +1-904-535-2886, or

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 17, 2006
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