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Press Release

Independence Blue Cross Launches Incentive Program to Help Keep Members Healthy

Healthy LifestylesSM Rewards Offers Participating Members up to $200 in Gift Cards

Philadelphia, PA - March 11, 2009 - Independence Blue Cross now makes getting healthy more attractive by rewarding members for taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle through a new incentive program, Healthy LifestylesSM Rewards. The new program is a key part of Independence’s strategic efforts to help members take a more active role in their health and become better-informed consumers of health care. Since research shows that healthier people use health care services less often than unhealthy people, everyone — employers and their employees alike — saves money when members make wise choices for their well-being.

Healthy Lifestyles Rewards is designed to help employers make healthy behavior a priority for their employees. Through the program, members earn HealthPoints for registering, completing the online Personal Health Profile, exercising, visiting their doctors, getting preventive screenings, taking a smoke-free pledge, and talking with a Health Coach. Now in its initial launch phase, Healthy Lifestyles Rewards is underway with four large employer groups in the region.

Recent industry studies published in the American Journal of Health Promotion and on Time.com show the return on investment for rewards programs ranging from $1.50 to $3.90 for every dollar spent, depending on plan design. In a recent study sponsored by Independence, nearly 85 percent of surveyed employers said the best way to control health care costs is for people to take better care of themselves. Employer groups offer healthy lifestyle rewards programs because having healthier employees reduces worker absenteeism, boosts productivity, and saves on health care costs.

The Healthy Lifestyles Rewards program rewards members who are already practicing healthy behavior, while encouraging less proactive members to make healthy changes in their lives. As members earn HealthPoints, they can redeem them in the form of gift cards for up to $200 per year from hundreds of retailers, including stores, restaurants, and more.

Nearly 12,500 Independence members are currently piloting this program and providing feedback on how it works. Participating employer groups include Pennoni Associates, Public Health Management Corporation, Tasty Baking, and Independence.

"We invested careful thought and research into the design of Healthy Lifestyles Rewards to make sure it provides attractive incentives to motivate employees to make better health care decisions," said Dr. Esther Nash, senior medical director for Independence. "People respond to rewards - consider the success of credit cards that offer points for loyalty to airlines or hotels. Our program encourages members to earn points for behavior that helps them get or stay healthy and live longer and more enjoyable lives. The program offers something to inspire everyone and many different steps a member can take to focus on better health."

"We see Healthy Lifestyles Rewards as an opportunity to motivate our employees to make healthy choices," said Celeste Collins, vice president of Human Resources for Public Health Management Corporation, a non-profit health institute that is participating in the pilot of Healthy Lifestyles Rewards. "As a public health organization, it is important for us to be able to offer healthy rewards programs to our own employees since we are in the business of offering programs that work toward better health for the community at large."

"We are hearing positive things from the groups using Healthy Lifestyles Rewards," said Scott Post, vice president of Marketing at Independence. "We are excited to share the program with more members as we roll it out to more employer groups on July 1 this year."

Post explained that the program is expected to increase awareness and participation in other Independence programs, like ConnectionsSM Health Management and Healthy Lifestyles. In addition to earning HealthPoints rewards, members are still eligible for the regular Healthy Lifestyles programs like fitness club, bike helmet, and breast pump reimbursements.

A recent study, commissioned by Independence and conducted by DSS Research, a national health care research firm headquartered in Fort Worth, Tex., found that half of employers surveyed said they are likely to offer the program to their workforce and believe it will lead to healthier employees. While most employers expressed interest in a rewards program, those most intrigued were employers who offer high-deductible health plans. Another recent Independence study conducted with consumers found that approximately two-thirds would likely participate in a rewards based incentive program if their employers offered it. Consumers also said that if their employers offered programs, it would show that the employers cared about their employees.

For more information about Healthy Lifestyles Rewards, employer groups are encouraged to talk to their health insurance representative.

Healthy Lifestyle Rewards is administered for Independence by IncentOne, an industry-recognized vendor who specializes in integrating rewards, guidance, and services for successful incentive programs.

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 3.4 million people. For 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.

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