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GROUP HEALTH TO OFFER HEALTHCARE COVERAGE TO FREDERICK & NELSON EMPLOYEES

 GROUP HEALTH TO OFFER HEALTHCARE COVERAGE
 TO FREDERICK & NELSON EMPLOYEES
 SEATTLE, March 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today by Frederick & Nelson:
 Most insurance companies are reluctant to protect people who lose their health coverage due to unemployment. However, Group Health Cooperative has arranged a special group policy that will allow Frederick & Nelson employees to maintain their healthcare coverage for up to 18 months after employment ends.
 "We are grateful to Group Health for its leadership and concern for our employees," said David Taylor, Frederick & Nelson's chief operating officer.
 Although Frederick & Nelson employees are ineligible for benefits under the federal COBRA law, which generally applies when an employee no longer is eligible for an employer-paid plan, Group Health is coming forward to offer a COBRA-like plan. (COBRA allows laid-off workers to continue their health insurance for 18 months at a premium rate similar to what their former employer paid.)
 To make its coverage more affordable during these financially difficult times, Group Health has created a plan that will provide comprehensive coverage, including physician visits, prescription drugs, maternity, hospital and emergency care beginning June 1. It also provides coverage for pre-existing conditions with no waiting period.
 "I want to praise Group Health for coming forward at a time when so much else is uncertain for Frederick & Nelson employees," said Joe Peterson, president of UFCW Local 1001. "We have a long-standing relationship with Group Health, and we know they'll provide the best possible healthcare for our people."
 To offer this lower-cost plan, Group Health needs at least 50 percent of all Frederick & Nelson employees to sign up. Otherwise the low cost will be impossible to achieve.
 A survey about the plan has been mailed to all current employees as well as those laid off since March 1. Employees will be notified of the results the week of April 6.
 "Group Health has really stepped forward to help Frederick & Nelson employees. It shows leadership," said Dick Marquardt, state insurance commissioner. "Efforts like this don't happen often enough."
 "Group Health believes every person has the right to healthcare coverage, regardless of employment status," said Phil Nudelman, Group Health Cooperative's president and chief executive officer. "Attaining this goal is a community responsibility and one that we take seriously."
 Non-profit Group Health Cooperative is the nation's largest consumer-governed healthcare organization, serving more than 474,000 people in Washington and north Idaho.
 -0- 3/19/92
 /CONTACT: Dave Fisher of The Rockey Co., 206-728-1100, for Frederick & Nelson; or Henry Farber of Frederick & Nelson, 206-382-8405/ CO: Frederick & Nelson; Group Health Cooperative ST: Washington IN: HEA SU:


SC -- SE005 -- 9791 03/19/92 15:25 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 19, 1992
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