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INDEPENDENCE BLUE CROSS ANNOUNCES APPROVAL OF NEW LOW-COST HEALTH CARE COVERAGE

 INDEPENDENCE BLUE CROSS ANNOUNCES APPROVAL
 OF NEW LOW-COST HEALTH CARE COVERAGE
 PHILADELPHIA, April 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania's Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans have received approval for their new low-cost health care coverage specifically designed for thousands of low- and moderate- income Pennsylvanians who currently have no health insurance.
 G. Fred DiBona Jr., attorney, president and chief executive officer, Independence Blue Cross, announced today the approval of Blue Cross and Blue Shield's "Special Care." DiBona said Special Care will cost about half the price of standard coverage and be available May 1, 1992.
 Acting Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Ronald Chronister officially announced the approval of Special Care by the State Insurance Department today.
 Special Care is part of a statewide effort by all four state Blue Cross plans and Pennsylvania Blue Shield to lower the rate of uninsured in Pennsylvania.
 "Pennsylvania has one of the lowest rates of uninsured in the country," DiBona said. "This is due in large part to the policies and products offered by the state's Blue Cross Plans and Pennsylvania Blue Shield. Special Care will help assure that Pennsylvania maintains, and hopefully decrease, its small percentage of uninsured."
 Independence Blue Cross and Pennsylvania Blue Shield Special Care will cost $61.85 per month for individual coverage and $88.45 per month for a parent and child(ren). Family coverage will also be available.
 The low-cost program is possible because participating hospitals have agreed to accept discounted levels of reimbursement for those covered by Special Care. Blue Shield participating physicians also will accept discounted payments.
 "I would like to thank the hospitals, doctors and other health care providers that have agreed to participate in this worthwhile program," said DiBona. "The success of Special Care is contingent upon the continued support of these providers."
 Also contributing to the low-cost will be a specially designed benefit package and a projected $8 million in annual subsidies from Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
 "This product is representative of our continuous effort to meet our social mission of providing health care coverage to as many Pennsylvania residents as possible," said DiBona. "Special Care will present an option to many people who would not normally be able to purchase health insurance."
 Although low-priced, Special Care will provide full payment for covered hospitalization and professional health care services.
 The coverage also would include preventive services such as home and office visits for children and adults. Specific benefits include:
 Standard Blue Cross and Blue Shield Benefits:
 -- Surgery/anesthesia (inpatient/outpatient)
 -- Inpatient-diagnostic services
 -- Emergency accident and medical treatment
 -- Maternity/newborn care
 -- Chemotherapy/radiation therapy
 Benefit Modification:
 -- 21 days inpatient care (hospital/medical) -- renewable after 90 consecutive days out of the hospital
 -- outpatient diagnostic services ($1,000 annual maximum)
 -- hospital and surgery review programs
 Primary Care/Wellness:
 -- Four annual doctor visits per person ($10 copayment)
 -- Comprehensive preventive care for children (physician visits, immunizations, pathology)
 -- Routine annual mammogram and pap smear for women
 Eligibility for Special Care: Pennsylvania's rate of uninsured is already among the lowest in the country, at an estimated 8 to 10 percent of the population. Blue Cross and Blue shield Special care is intended to further reduce that rate by making health insurance more affordable for the estimated 600,000 residents eligible for Special Care who currently do not have health insurance.
 Seventy percent of the state's uninsured are younger than 35. To reach that group, Blue Cross and Blue Shield designed the program with single parents and young families in mind -- people who need both standard health care coverage and preventive services coverage. Pennsylvania's uninsured population is dominated by working single parents and young families.
 Those who are uninsured run the risk of financial devastation if they need extensive health care services. That cost either will go unpaid and be an unreimbursed burden for hospitals and doctors or will be shifted to those who are privately insured.
 Special Care will be available to:
 -- One person earning $12,000 or less per year.
 -- Two-person families earning $16,000 or less.
 -- Three-person families earning $20,000 or less.
 -- Families of four or more earning $24,000 or less.
 Reasons for Low-Cost: On a per-person basis, Special Care will provide annual health care services that would normally cost an estimated $1,500 for less than $800 in premium payments. A number of factors will contribute to the low cost of Special Care:
 -- Health care providers -- hospitals, other institutions, doctors and other professionals providing care -- will accept lower-than-usual payments.
 -- Blue Cross contributes to a subsidy that will offset a portion of the cost of premiums for purchasers of Special Care.
 -- A managed care component of Special Care will require advance approval for 13 elective surgeries and all non-emergency hospital admissions.
 -- "Community-rating" of the new program will enable persons with Special Care to be part of one large group within each Blue Cross region, evenly spreading all premium expenses throughout the entire base of persons with Special Care coverage.
 Pennsylvania is one of nine states assuring the availability of "community-rated" health insurance. In Pennsylvania, community-rated coverage is available through Blue Cross and Blue Shield. States with community-rated health insurance tend to have lower rates of uninsured, according to the government's General Accounting Office, and other studies. Congress is considering greater use of community rating as federal policy.
 Currently, nearly 2 million Pennsylvanians are within community- rated Blue Cross and Blue Shield programs, including 240,000 individuals younger than 65; 900,000 small group employees and their families; and 730,000 senior citizens who purchase 65-Special coverage to supplement Medicare. Another 270,000 retirees have employer-paid 65-Special. Blue Cross and Blue Shield also provide health care coverage for 4.5 million Pennsylvanians through large group customers who purchase coverage for their employees.
 No Health or Age Restrictions: As with most coverage offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield in this state, accessibility to community- rated Special Care will not be restricted by age (for those not covered by Medicare), health status or occupation. Those who are older or who have medical problems will not be charged a higher price.
 Special Care was developed through a statewide task force involving Independence Blue Cross, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Blue cross of Western Pennsylvania, Capital Blue Cross and Pennsylvania Blue Shield.
 /delval/
 -0- 4/1/92
 /CONTACT: Jim Panyard of Independence Blue Cross, 215-241-3101/ CO: Independence Blue Cross ST: Pennsylvania IN: INS SU:


JS-CC -- PH041 -- 4115 04/01/92 17:56 EST
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Date:Apr 1, 1992
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