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Press Release

IBC Joins Cover the Uninsured Week March 22-28

IBC Representatives Discuss Low-Cost or Free Coverage Options at Events Throughout the Area

Philadelphia, PA - March 23, 2009 - To complement its efforts to help the uninsured, Independence Blue Cross will participate in several outreach activities to provide information and answer questions by people interested in obtaining low-cost or free health insurance during Cover the Uninsured Week March 22- 28.

"Every person should have access to quality, affordable health care, and Cover the Uninsured Week is an important way to raise awareness and tell more people about their options," said Joseph A. Frick, president and chief executive officer for Independence Blue Cross. "People with adequate health coverage have greater opportunities to not only live healthier lives but also to lower health care expenses for their entire community by avoiding more expensive medical care they often seek in emergency rooms, for example.  By helping more people get covered, we are making an investment in their health that will strengthen our community."

Independence Blue Cross will be at the following locations in the Philadelphia area, March 22- 26:

3/22 10 a.m. Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church 2800 W. Cheltenham Ave. Phila.
3/23 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Mercy Philadelphia Hospital 501 South 54th St. Phila.
3/24 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Swarthmore Public Library 121 Park Ave. Swarthmore
3/25 3 p.m - 7 p.m. State Rep. John Taylor's office Hunting Park Ave. Phila.
3/25 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Dixon House 1920 S. 20th St. Phila.
3/26 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Upper Darby Public Library 409 Ashland Ave. Primos
3/26 3 p.m - 7 p.m. State Rep. John Taylor's office Hunting Park Ave. Phila.
3/26 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Calvin Presbyterian Church 1401 N. 60th St. Phila.

The uninsured: a national problem

During Cover the Uninsured Week, thousands of activities across the nation will mobilize people to focus attention on the need for health care coverage for the uninsured. Key issues include:

  • Nearly 46 million Americans, including more than eight million children, are living without health insurance, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Locally, nearly 1.2 million Pennsylvanians - or nearly 10 percent of the state's population - are uninsured.
  • There is overwhelming evidence that a lack of health insurance has direct health effects on children and adults. According to a 2009 statement to Congress by the Institute of Medicine, uninsured adults are 25 percent more likely to die prematurely than insured adults overall, and with serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or cancer, their risk of premature death can be 40 to 50 percent higher. Uninsured children are 20 to 30 percent more likely to lack immunizations, prescription medications, asthma care, and basic dental care, according to the Institute. 
  • The uninsured are not necessarily poor. Although one-third of uninsured adults earn less than $20,500 a year, one-fifth of uninsured individuals earn at least $50,000 annually.

What IBC does to help the uninsured

IBC works year-round to reduce the number of uninsured in this region. The organization administers the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), adultBasic, and Special Care programs, which provide free or low-cost health insurance to nearly 63,000 individuals who would otherwise be uninsured.

Independence Blue Cross, an administrator of the CHIP program with the Caring Foundation, has provided coverage to more than 235,000 children in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties since 1990. CHIP is free for most children, but for those whose families have slightly higher incomes, the Caring Foundation subsidizes the monthly payment so that parents pay a reduced monthly premium.  In 2008, the Caring Foundation dedicated more than $900,000 to help make health care more affordable for nearly 6,000 uninsured children.

In addition to CHIP, IBC also offers adultBasic and Special Care to provide low-income area residents with affordable access to health care. The programs can provide help for people who are temporarily uninsured and need "gap" coverage or for those who have been uninsured for a long time. IBC also subsidizes the two programs to make insurance more affordable to families and individuals.

IBC is the sole administrator in southeastern Pennsylvania for the adultBasic program, which offers Keystone Health Plan East HMO coverage for adults ages 19 to 64. adultBasic is a state-funded program through Pennsylvania's Tobacco Settlement Fund. Nearly 14,000 adults are currently enrolled in adultBasic.

Special Care is a low-cost, limited benefit policy providing traditional fee-for-service health coverage for uninsured individuals and families in southeastern Pennsylvania, who cannot afford to purchase private health care coverage, yet are not eligible for Medical Assistance or Medicare. Currently, approximately 9,000 people have coverage through Special Care.

In addition, IBC tackles the problem of the uninsured through the Charitable Medical Care Grant Program, which provides operational funding to non-profit, privately-funded clinics in southeastern Pennsylvania. To date, the six-year-old program has awarded nearly $13 million to 34 area clinics that provide quality care to more than 96,000 uninsured and underinsured patients each year. These clinics ultimately reduce the number of uninsured individuals who require treatment at area hospitals.

About Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. IBC and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.4 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 is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.