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SPECIAL CARE HELPS 36,000 PENNSYLVANIANS GAIN ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE COVERAGE

 CAMP HILL, Pa., Jan. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Since June 1992, more than 36,000 Pennsylvanians have enrolled in Special Care, a comprehensive, low-cost health insurance program developed by the state's Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans to help more residents gain access to affordable health care coverage.
 Special Care is now the largest low-cost, basic benefit health care plan in the country. An Oregon program has 14,000 subscribers, and a Washington program has 5,000.
 Even though Pennsylvania's uninsured population is very difficult to identify, Blue Cross and Blue Shield had anticipated that most interest in Special Care would be from single parents in their mid-20s. Now, nearly eight months later, Blue Cross and Blue Shield find that Special Care is generating the most response from uninsured, single individuals who have no children and are over 35 years old. Most of these individuals earn under $18,000 a year and live in an urban or suburban setting. And nearly 25 percent of the individuals who inquire about this low-cost product reside in the Philadelphia area.
 Through telephone inquiries about Special Care, Blue Cross and Blue Shield have also determined that income seems to have no effect on those who lack health care coverage. Those who earned $24,000 a year were just as likely to be uninsured as callers who earned under $12,000.
 Special Care is specifically designed for low- and moderate-income Pennsylvanians under age 65 and costs about half the price of traditional Blue Cross and Blue Shield coverage. The program offers a full range of benefits and focuses heavily on preventative care such as home and office visits for children and adults, mammograms and pap smears, immunizations, and maternity and newborn care. Monthly premiums range from $61.80 to $75.80 for an individual and $143.65 to $198.20 for a family of two adults with two or more children. Premiums will vary, depending on where an individual lives in the state.
 Special Care is patterned after a two-year-old program offered by Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania and is another step in a series of initiatives undertaken by Blue Cross and Blue Shield to broaden access to health care coverage.
 Such initiatives have helped Pennsylvania rank fourth lowest in the nation in the percentage of uninsured residents (7.8 percent). Only three other states, Connecticut, Hawaii and North Dakota, have lower percentages of uninsured residents than Pennsylvania, according to recent studies conducted by Public Citizen and Physicians for a National Health Program, a non-profit consumer advocacy group in Washington, D.C., and The Center for National Health Program Studies at Harvard Medical School/The Cambridge Hospital, Cambridge, Mass. A third study, conducted by the Employee Benefits Research Institute in Washington, D.C., also confirms Pennsylvania's percentage of uninsured as fourth lowest in the nation.
 Many residents in other states have no place to purchase health insurance when they are sick or have a pre-existing condition, but Blue Cross and Blue Shield will insure anyone, regardless of health, age or occupation.
 To help keep Special Care affordable to everyone, participating hospitals and doctors throughout the state have agreed to accept discounted levels of reimbursement, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield also contribute $8 million annually in subsidies.
 Although the cost of Special Care is low-priced, the program provides full payment for covered hospitalization and professional
health care services. Specific benefits include:
 Standard Blue Cross and Blue Shield Benefits
 Inpatient - diagnostic services
 Emergency accident and medical treatment
 Maternity/newborn care
 Chemotherapy/radiation therapy
 Other Benefits
 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 Benefits
 Annual doctor visits per person ($10 copayment)
 Comprehensive preventive care for children (physician
 visits, immunizations, pathology)
 Routine annual mammogram and pap smear for women
 For further information on Special Care, contact the Blue Cross plan in your area.
 In Pennsylvania, nearly 7 million people are served by Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Wilkes-Barre; Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh; Capital Blue Cross, Harrisburg; Independence Blue Cross, Philadelphia; and Pennsylvania Blue Shield, Camp Hill.
 /delval/
 -0- 1/28/93
 /CONTACT: Bill Bachman, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, 717-829-6035; Diane Wuycheck of Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania, 412-255-7697; Scott Dugan of Capital Blue Cross, 717-541-6134; Jim Panyard of Independence Blue Cross, 215-241-3101; or Jean B. Edwards of Pennsylvania Blue Shield, 717-975-7376/


CO: Pennsylvania Blue Shield; Independence Blue Cross; Blue Cross of
 Western Pennsylvania ST: Pennsylvania IN: INS SU:


MK -- PH029 -- 0368 01/28/93 14:46 EST
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Date:Jan 28, 1993
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