Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois HMOs Introduce Complementary Healthcare Discount Program

    CHICAGO, Sept. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
 announced today it will provide its 780,000 HMO members with a new
 complementary healthcare discount program, BlueExtras, that will be
 administered by American Specialty Health Networks (ASHN), the nation's first
 and largest health plan for chiropractic and acupuncture services.
     Effective January 1, 2000, HMO Illinois (HMOI) and Blue Advantage HMO
 members will have direct access to ASHN's credentialled network of
 chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists in Illinois, as well as
 throughout the country.  No physician referrals or claim forms will be
 required.  Members need only to show their Blue Cross and Blue Shield
 membership card to be eligible.
     Participating providers, who will be paid directly by their patients, have
 agreed to accept a 25 percent reduction in their fees for members of HMOI and
 Blue Advantage HMO.
     "We are excited to offer this program to our members," said Rick
 Allegretti, Vice President/Sales HMO Products for Blue Cross and Blue Shield
 of Illinois.  "Our members have been asking for more access to complementary
 methods of medical care, and BlueExtras provides them with direct access to
 licensed chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists, completely at
 their convenience."
     HMOI and Blue Advantage HMO will provide members with information on the
 network through newsletters, brochures and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of
 Illinois Web site.  Members also will have access to ASHN's national network
 of fitness clubs at a "best pricing" level and can receive unlimited free one-
 week introductory certificates.
     In addition, Healthyroads.com, an ASHN affiliate, will offer a
 comprehensive Internet source for complementary healthcare resources and
 information for HMOI and Blue Advantage HMO members.  Healthyroads.com will be
 linked to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Web site, www.bcbsil.com,
 and it will include:
 
     -- Educational Resources: comprehensive information on complementary and
        alternative medicine.
     -- Product Retailing: guaranteed low pricing on more than 1,200
        nutritional supplements, books, tapes and other products.  ASHN
        conducts third-party testing of the products offered in order to
        maintain quality control.
     -- Network Access: a national network directory of chiropractors,
        acupuncturists, massage therapists and fitness clubs participating in
        the ASHN network.  Through this website, members will easily locate a
        participating complementary healthcare provider anywhere in the
        country, obtain travel instructions and get a certificate to access
        their chosen provider.
 
     "Complementary healthcare is of one of healthcare's most rapidly growing
 areas, and it is in high demand by consumers," said George DeVries, President
 and CEO of American Specialty Health Networks (ASHN).  "We are pleased to
 partner with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois to provide their Network
 Access networks and management systems as well as cutting edge internet and e-
 commerce solutions."
     This agreement with ASHN marks the second time this year that Blue Cross
 and Blue Shield of Illinois has introduced complementary healthcare options to
 its members.
     Beginning in January, HMOI offered members the ability to select a
 chiropractor as their primary care physician.
     Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, the oldest and largest health
 insurance company in Illinois, began in 1936 as Hospital Service Corporation
 and officially adopted the Blue Cross symbol in 1939.  Currently, Blue Cross
 and Blue Shield of Illinois provides health insurance coverage for more than
 3 million people in Illinois.
     ASHN provides network access programs and managed care programs nationwide
 to health plans, insurance carriers, employer groups and trust funds.  Its
 affiliate, ASHP, is the nation's first and largest health plan for
 chiropractic and acupuncture services, operating in California.
     ASHN/ASHP provides comprehensive services including utilization
 management, quality management, member and provider services, claims and
 credentialing.  ASHN/ASHP have received seven full two-year accreditations
 from the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission/URAC.  Together, ASHP
 and ASHN cover more than 13 million members nationwide.
 
 

SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois

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