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New and Innovative Plans Give Illinois Employers and Consumers Greater Responsibility, Guidance and Cost Savings in Health Coverage; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Launches BlueEdge Consumer-Directed Health Care Products.

CHICAGO -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) recently announced the addition of new and innovative products to its BlueEdge portfolio of consumer-directed health plans. The products are designed to give consumers greater choice and control in directing the health benefits provided by their employers, and to give employers greater flexibility in how they can deliver on their health benefits strategy. They work by combining the cost efficiency of a high deductible health plan with the convenience of a PPO network and the funding advantages inherent in Health Savings and Health Reimbursement Accounts.

"As health care costs continue to rise, employers and consumers are looking for tools that can help them control and even reduce these costs," said Gail Boudreaux, Executive Vice President of External Operations for Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), which operates in Illinois as BCBSIL. "Our BlueEdge benefit designs empower employers to better manage health care costs, while at the same time offering tools and incentives to help employees make better health care decisions."

Currently, HCSC covers nearly 200,000 individuals under its portfolio of consumer-directed health plans. Members enrolled in the new BlueEdge plans were able to begin receiving benefits as of January 1. The recently added products include:

--BlueEdge Wellness Rewards, for employers who would like to reward employees for wellness activities such as physicals and other preventive care services;

--BlueEdge FSA First, which offers Flexible Savings Accounts for employers who want more flexibility in how healthcare dollars are accessed;

--BlueEdge Vitality, an innovative and cost-effective health plan option that employers can use to help fund retiree benefits;

--Limited purpose HCA plans that are compatible with HSA products; and

--Integrated prescription drug plans.

Other plans currently available include:

--BlueEdge HCA (Health Care Account), which combines the advantages of an employer funded health reimbursement account with rollover features, and the efficiencies of a PPO network arrangement; and

--BlueEdge HSA, which provides the advantages of a member-owned, portable, tax-advantaged Health Savings Account and a PPO network

The BlueEdge plans also include powerful online decision support and education tools, such as the Treatment Cost Estimator and the Personal Health Manager that help employees track and manage their health expenditures on a personalized, secure Web site. Employees can earn incentives and rewards for healthy choices, as well as access health and wellness information and health provider comparison tools through seamlessly integrated online educational and transactional capabilities.

"Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois has a well-deserved reputation for giving its customers the products and tools that help them manage their costs and their claims better than any other insurer in the state," said Paul Boulis, President of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. "Employers benefit from the combined cost efficiencies of the BlueEdge products along with Blue Cross' large contracting provider network, unparalleled customer service and powerful online resources."

For more information about BCBSIL's new plans visit www.bcbsil.com.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company (HCSC), is the largest and most experienced health insurance company in the state. Currently, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois provides health insurance coverage for more than 6.5 million people. HCSC is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jan 30, 2006
Words:555
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