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Press Release

IBC Offers Waiver or Reduced Waiting Period for Preexisting Conditions on Individual Health Plans

Philadelphia, PA - June 29, 2010 - Beginning July 1, 2010, Independence Blue Cross (IBC) will begin to waive or reduce the waiting period for preexisting conditions on its medically underwritten individual health plans, by giving new individual members credit for prior coverage. This will mean more people can have faster access to covered care for conditions for which they have previously received medical advice or treatment.

"As we move toward the dawn of federal health care reform taking effect, we are proud to proactively reduce or waive the waiting period for our individual members to be treated for preexisting conditions," said Jim O'Connor, director of individual sales for Independence Blue Cross. "We want to help our new members get the coverage they need as soon as we can."

Preexisting conditions are any health conditions for which a member received medical advice or treatment before applying for new insurance coverage. IBC's medically underwritten plans have exclusions for preexisting conditions for the first 12 months of coverage; this is often referred to as a waiting period. Under IBC's HMO plans, any conditions for which a member received medical advice or treatment in the 90 days preceding his enrollment are considered preexisting conditions. For PPO plans, this look-back period is 12 months.

For all of IBC's medically underwritten Personal Choice PPOs and Keystone Health Plan East HMO programs, members who apply and are accepted for coverage beginning July 1, 2010, may be able to waive or reduce the 12-month waiting period for preexisting conditions. There are two ways to qualify:

  • Blue-to-Blue transfer, when an individual has had active health coverage with any Blue Cross® or Blue Shield® plan for up to 12 months without any break in coverage prior to the requested effective date. The member can receive credit for each month of prior coverage up to the entire waiting period of 12 months. For example, if the member had eight months of Blue Cross® or Blue Shield® plan coverage prior to applying without any break in coverage, they would have those eight months credited toward their waiting period, and would have a four-month waiting period.
  • Creditable coverage, when an individual has had active coverage with another insurance carrier for at least 18 months without a break in coverage of more than 63 days prior to the current application.

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.