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UnitedHealthcare Introduces Affordable Health Insurance Program to Cleveland's Uninsured Workers.

CLEVELAND -- UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH):

* New Belay program offers simple, affordable health insurance solutions

* Employed uninsured can have security and protection against catastrophic events

* In Ohio, 12 percent of residents do not have health insurance

They are working, but they are uninsured. Cleveland has one of the highest rates of single, working, uninsured people in the United States including more than 129,000 individuals ages 35 to 54. This demographic group cited several barriers to purchasing health insurance including affordability, ineligibility for a group plan, complacency, and lack of satisfactory options available.

To combat these barriers, UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) company, is piloting a health insurance program, Belay, designed to reach these individuals ages 35 to 54 who are working and uninsured and provide them with a solution for their health and financial security.

The Belay program offers two affordable, direct-to-consumer health insurance plans, Belay 100 and Belay HSA 100. In Cleveland, costs for the new Belay plans range from $78 to $109 per month. In comparison, average COBRA premiums range from $200 to $500+ per month based on employer, insurer and plan selected, according to Benefits Administration Services, July 1, 2006 Bulletin.

In addition to offering an affordable solution, a key component of the pilot is getting the word out that there are alternatives to COBRA or just doing without health insurance. A multi-faceted outreach campaign, including radio, print and online advertising, will be launched on Nov. 14 at a rock-climbing-themed event.

In rock climbing, "belay" refers to the practice of controlling the rope fed to a climber to prevent a fall; the rope system provides needed security to ensure the climber's safety. UnitedHealthcare's Belay health plans offer individuals similar security, protecting them from potential financial setbacks that can result from unexpected and emergency health issues such as a knee injury, cancer or a heart attack. A cancer diagnosis can cost nearly $50,000 for treatment excluding surgery costs, while 12 months of post-heart attack care can set someone back $26,000, according to Symmetry Health Data Systems, National ETG Benchmarks, 2006.

"The Belay plans are affordable and simple health insurance options to cover individuals in the event of major and unexpected health crises, providing Cleveland's uninsured workers with an answer to their health insurance concerns," said Lisa Chapman-Smith, executive director, UnitedHealthcare of Northern Ohio. "Too often, people believe that COBRA provides the only alternative to personal coverage and that individual health plans are financially out-of-reach or are too complicated to access. UnitedHealthcare's Belay plans are an affordable, hassle-free alternative that can help secure the financial and personal well-being of uninsured workers."

The Belay program products, Belay 100 and Belay HSA 100, are similar in many respects: both feature low monthly premiums, cover policyholders in the case of major medical emergencies and offer basic preventive coverage. Belay 100 is a high-deductible plan, which benefits individuals who just want coverage for unexpected illnesses or accidents. Belay HSA 100 is similar but also offers a health savings account (HSA), which is a tax-favored savings account created for the purpose of paying medical expenses. Contributions to HSA accounts are 100 percent deductible; withdrawals are not taxed; and interest earnings are tax free; if used to pay for qualified medical expenses. Both health plans are underwritten by Golden Rule, a UnitedHealthcare company, and are available direct-to-consumers through an easy application process available at www.belayhealth.com or by calling 1-888-4ON-BELAY.

Rock Climbing Kick-off

On Nov. 14, world-renowned speed climber and three-time X-Games gold medal winner, Hans Florine, will demonstrate the importance of being "on belay," or secured, in rock climbing at a live performance at 11 a.m. at the Tower City Shopping Center. Hans Florine will be joined by Project Bandaloop, an artistic performance group, to perform on climbing ropes suspended from the atrium ceiling, four stories high. The launch event also will feature guerilla marketing teams - dressed in rock-climbing gear - that will spread the word about Belay that day and across Cleveland in the coming weeks at sports restaurants, near home improvement stores and other venues.

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare (www.unitedhealthcare.com) provides a full spectrum of consumer-oriented health benefit plans and services, helping more than 25 million consumers nationwide achieve improved health and well-being through various health service systems. UnitedHealthcare arranges access to quality, affordable care with more than 500,000 physicians and care professionals and 4,600 hospitals across America. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group, a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. Other UnitedHealth Group businesses include Ovations, AmeriChoice, Uniprise, Specialized Care Services and Ingenix.

About Golden Rule

A UnitedHealthcare company since 2003, Golden Rule currently offers health insurance to individuals and families in 28 states. In 1992, Golden Rule introduced the Medical Savings Account paving the way for today's HSAs. For eight consecutive years, Golden Rule has been ranked by Ward Group as one of the 50 Life-Health top-performing companies that have done the best job of balancing financial safety, consistency, and performance.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Nov 9, 2006
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