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