New Individual Personal Choice PPO Plans Provide Greater Choice, Low Rates

Independence Blue Cross Offers Five New PPO Options to Individuals in the Region

Jun 29, 2010, 16:03 ET from Independence Blue Cross

PHILADELPHIA, June 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Beginning July 1, 2010, Independence Blue Cross (IBC) will offer five new Personal Choice® PPO plan options for individuals – expanding the range of individual plan choices for health care consumers in the region. These medically underwritten plans are available in three popular formats: copay, deductible and health savings account (HSA) plan designs that enable consumers to choose the type of plan and pricing that fits their specific needs.

"With health care reform passing earlier this year, we're going to see greater focus on individuals taking accountability for their health and being proactive in their care and treatments," said Daniel Hilferty, president of health markets for Independence Blue Cross. "When individuals are covered by health plans from Independence Blue Cross, they are getting coverage that encourages them to be proactive and live a healthy lifestyle."

"These five new Individual PPO plans are available as part of IBC's full spectrum of health insurance plans, and may be most appropriate for younger and healthier members, which happen to be the demographic that has the highest percentage of being uninsured, often simply because they aren't covered by a group plan," said Brett Mayfield, vice president of sales for IBC. He added although these new PPOs are medically underwritten, IBC offers some health care plan option for everyone.

"Like other consumer product lines, we were hearing that our members wanted greater flexibility and affordability," said Linda Taylor, chief marketing executive of Independence Blue Cross. "Some want to have peace of mind that they are covered if they need to be hospitalized, but they want to keep their monthly premiums as low as possible. Others want to be able to pay a low copay for their health care services."

"What really differentiates our five new PPO plans is that they all offer a wide range of health care services and include our signature Healthy Lifestyles(SM) reimbursement programs – $150 back per year for fitness clubs fees, $200 back for approved smoking cessation programs and $200 back for approved weight loss programs," Mayfield said. "These are some of the value-add features that help our members make the most of their health benefits, and help them strive for optimal wellness."

Because affordability is a hot button in health care in the current environment, IBC developed these plans to offer premiums to fit many budget-conscious consumers' needs. For example, young males can get coverage for as little as $75 per month with an HSA-qualified plan. With a copay plan, members generally pay a higher monthly premium, but have fixed costs for most health care services like office visits. With IBCs deductible and HSA plans, the monthly premium payment can be held lower because the deductible for more comprehensive services like emergency, hospitalization, and surgery is higher. So these plans are a great option for those who tend to use only the basic medical services.

All of the plans offer access to the BlueCard® PPO network for comprehensive coverage across the country, but what members pay each month depends, in part, on what they want to spend for health care services.

The new plans offer coverage for preventive care, prescription drug benefits including a money-saving mail order option, x-ray and laboratory services, and 24/7 access to a Health Coach. Health Coaches provide support for everyday or more serious health concerns and can provide information and education when facing medical decisions or treatment options.

"We are pleased to offer new options to help many individuals who may have been going uninsured for too long – those adults who worry every day about what they're going to face if they need health care," said Taylor. "It is our hope that these new health care options and the introduction of the increasingly popular HSA-qualified plans will empower people in our region to take better care of themselves, which ultimately strengthens the health of the community."

Health savings accounts (HSAs) are tax-advantaged savings accounts that can be used to save for health care expenses. Members enrolled in an HSA-qualified health plan may choose to open an HSA though it's not a requirement. However, saving in a HSA offers tax advantages, and allows the member to reimburse himself for copays, coinsurance, and expenses he might incur before reaching his deductible. The member determines how much and how often to contribute to his HSA as long as he doesn't exceed the maximum annual contribution ($3,050 for singles; $6,150 for family). This money, set aside for future health care costs, grows on a tax-advantaged basis, earning tax-free interest, and remains in the HSA from year to year until it is used for health care expenses.

The five new PPO plans are added to IBC's existing line-up of medically underwritten products for individuals; including six different options of Individual Keystone Health Plan East HMO plans. With any of the options, members can feel comfortable they are carrying an Independence Blue Cross card, which is widely accepted for quality health care coverage.

The website makes it easy for individuals to apply online and get a free quote. Rates are guaranteed for the first six months of coverage, regardless of any rate increases for the individual medically underwritten products.

About Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. Nationwide, Independence Blue Cross and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.3 million people. For more than 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross's HMO and PPO health care plans have consistently received the highest ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

SOURCE Independence Blue Cross