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Press Release

Independence Blue Cross Answers Need for University Student Health Coverage

IBC Student PPO provides affordable health care plans on college campuses

Philadelphia, PA - April 8, 2010 - Beginning this fall, colleges in southeastern Pennsylvania will have more choices available to offer their students quality, affordable, comprehensive health care coverage with the launch of the Independence Blue Cross Student PPO plan.

"We are very excited about our ability to offer this new Student PPO plan," says Daniel Hilferty, president of health markets for Independence Blue Cross. "More than three-quarters of the universities in southeastern Pennsylvania offer our health coverage to their staff and faculty and we are proud to be able to extend our Blue-branded capabilities to their students," he adds. "We are eager to further broaden our reach with colleges, to help students stay well and focused on fit and healthy lifestyles. We already support many of the universities in the area in various ways, and this is one more way we can lend a hand in strengthening the health of our community."

"Universities and colleges across the Philadelphia region have been driving the demand for this new type of PPO," says Linda Taylor, chief marketing executive of Independence Blue Cross. "We listened. And we are pleased to respond to the requests of college officials and parents of students, by offering a solution at competitive rates in time for the coming school year; to be available to students arriving on campuses in August 2010."

Taylor explains that in their young adulthood, college students have several options for health coverage, and with health care reform, could have coverage through age 26 under their parents' plans, although a student PPO plan may be among the most affordable options. She adds that because there are unique needs within a student population, the IBC Student PPO offers services designed specifically for student lifestyles, which are typically 'on the go.'

"Some of the features of the IBC Student PPO that colleges find attractive are the 24/7 nurse helpline, an exclusive student health website, discounts for healthy living, and proactive, coordinated case management for students with complex conditions," Taylor says. She explained that this innovative health program can be provided to students in combination with comprehensive pharmacy benefits, coverage for preventive services, physical and occupational therapy, and maternity care.

"This plan is very marketable for the colleges with whom we partner," says Dixon Gillis, president of A-G Administrators, collegiate insurance specialists in Valley Forge. "IBC's new offering will have a great impact on college students and the health plan decision administrators. University decision-makers are asking for a student product with the Blue network, which reaches coast to coast and around the world, to offer their students."

Gillis adds that most colleges will build a health care plan like this into their student tuition fees, making it a benefit that students and their parents can simply opt out of if they have other coverage. "IBC's Student PPO plan will be popular for students, their parents, and the health centers by increasing efficiencies of accessing care and the comfort of knowing they have Blue coverage. The plan makes health care services convenient for them to use, with no referrals to see a specialist and a network that is with them wherever they are. I applaud the IBC leadership team for rolling up their sleeves and getting this product to market," he says.

"I work with college personnel from every level that collectively make the decision on what student plan design their institution will sponsor.  I believe many of these school officials are going to be excited to offer a Blue-branded health plan to their students, at both undergraduate and graduate levels in the five-county area," says Joseph Strode, president of T.L. Groseclose Associates, Inc. a student health insurance consultant in Skillman, New Jersey. "IBC's brand is so well recognized in the Philadelphia region. Since many families already trust it, they will have peace of mind sending their student off with a health plan they can count on."

Strode adds that the broad Blue network regionally, across the U.S., and around the globe, is especially attractive to students who spend most of the year on campus, but may choose to go summer back-packing in Europe, enjoy spring break in Mexico, or fly home to the west coast for breaks. "The flexibility IBC is offering for student plans will likely be a hit with many of my clients since what is important to one school is not necessarily what is important to all," Strode says. "Schools will appreciate the ability to customize the plan to their unique needs."

"IBC's timely entrance into the student medical arena in Pennsylvania offers our client schools a unique opportunity to tap into the broadest and deepest physician and hospital network available," says Rich Seufer, vice president of Collegiate Insurance Resources, of Collegeville. He says he thinks this will be the biggest selling point for universities who want to offer a new plan to their students for the coming school year.

While at college, students can take advantage of IBC's regional PPO network including 55,000 doctors, 100 hospital systems, and coordination with their student health center, giving them access to convenient primary care right on their campus. Away from school, students can make use of in-network coverage across the U.S., through the BlueCard® PPO network of more than 676,000 doctors and 5,500 hospitals. Internationally, BlueCard Worldwide® offers access to care around the globe, as well as emergency travel services.

Students will be able to manage their health care through a secure and convenient website. Whether they are checking for covered services or looking for a doctor, students simply login to their own personal account that is available 24/7 through their university's website. Via the web, they can access eligibility information and benefits summaries, view claims and Explanations of Benefits, or print temporary ID cards. They can use IBC's health tools to find providers wherever they are, research health issues through an online health encyclopedia, estimate treatment costs, compare hospital and doctor quality grades, and review global health and safety resources.

Universities can find more information about the IBC Student PPO at www.ibx.com/student or through an Independence Blue Cross account executive. Interested students and their parents will want to contact their college's student health director or bursar's office to ask about the coverage that will be offered to enrolled students for the coming year.

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.

Independence Blue Cross supports comprehensive health care reform that would extend coverage to all Americans, reduce costs, and improve quality. We also advocate reform that builds on the current employer-based system that currently serves 170 million Americans. Learn more about our views on health care reform by visiting our website.

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