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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Announces New Options for Medicare Part D Beneficiaries.

Blue MedicareRx(SM) Offers Coverage Gap Protection

Open Enrollment Period is November 15 - December 31

CHICAGO -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois announced today that it will offer Medicare beneficiaries several new options for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, including a new plan that provides benefits in the coverage gap, or "doughnut hole." Medicare beneficiaries in Illinois who have not yet signed up for Medicare Part D coverage or are considering changing plans can do so during the annual open enrollment period, which begins November 15 and continues through December 31, 2006.

Each of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois' three plans - Blue MedicareRx(SM) Value, Standard and Plus - will cover approximately 2,200 drugs through a network of more than 2,400 pharmacies throughout Illinois, as well as fill prescriptions by mail.

In addition, the new Plus plan will cover generic drugs for enrollees who reach the coverage gap. The coverage gap, which is part of the Federal government's program design for Medicare Part D, requires that after the plan and individual together have paid a total of $2,400 for drugs, the individual must pay 100 percent of his or her drug costs up to $3,850. After reaching $3,850, the plan begins covering prescription drugs again, in accordance with the beneficiary's schedule of benefits.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Encourages Beneficiaries to Consider Their Options

"This second annual enrollment period is an opportunity for those who are newly eligible, those who are eligible but not enrolled, those considering changing plans, and those seeking coverage in the gap to evaluate their prescription drug needs and select a plan that will provide the best value for today and for future health care needs," said Peter Rodes, vice president of Consumer Markets for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. "Even beneficiaries who do not currently have significant drug expenses will have added security with a Part D plan as insurance against unexpected future changes in their health status."

Waiting to enroll could result in higher costs. The Federal program is designed so that eligible beneficiaries without creditable coverage who delay enrollment will pay higher premiums when they do join - one percent higher premium for each month they delay.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Offers Tools to Determine the Best Value for Their Needs

In a concerted effort to help Medicare beneficiaries and their families better understand their Part D coverage options, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is holding educational seminars around the state. The schedule is available at www.bcbsil.com/over65/october_seminars.pdf. Topics to be discussed include:

* When and how to choose a plan

* How Part D prescription drug coverage works

* Options if the plan chosen isn't meeting current needs

Plans Offer Broad Coverage, Convenient Pharmacies, and Mail Order

"The best value for an individual may not be the plan with the lowest priced premium," noted Rodes. "Each beneficiary should evaluate his or her own situation and each plan's attributes before making a decision. It's important to look at the breadth of the formulary or list of drugs that is covered, the benefit design including co-payments, and the ease of getting prescriptions filled through a large network of pharmacies and mail service. Mail service is both convenient and cost-effective - our members can save money by getting a 90-day supply of an eligible medication and paying two months' worth of co-payments, instead of the three they would pay if they refilled the prescription every month."

Enrollees benefit from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois' extensive pharmacy network with over 2,400 locations in Illinois, and over 55,000 nationwide. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois formulary covers approximately 2,200 unique prescription drugs, including 100 percent of the top 100 drugs covered by Medicare.

It's Easy to Enroll

Eligible Medicare beneficiaries can enroll in a Blue MedicareRx plan via phone, mail, online or through an authorized Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois agent from November 15 until December 31. Those who selected a plan during the previous enrollment period ending May 15 of this year can re-evaluate their choice of carrier or coverage level at this time.

For more information about Blue MedicareRx or to order an enrollment kit, visit www.bcbsil.com or call 1-888-285-2249 (TTY/TDD users call 1-888-285-2252) 8 a.m. - 8 p.m., Monday - Sunday. For more information about Medicare prescription drug coverage visit www.medicare.gov 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227, TTY/TDD users call 877-486-2048) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois:

(SM)Service Mark of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an Association of Independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois refers to HCSC Insurance Services Company, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company. These companies are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and offer or provide services for Medicare Part D products under HCSC Insurance Services Company's contract S5715 with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Oct 9, 2006
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