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Press Release

Independence Blue Cross Unveils new health plan options for small businesses

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) hit popularity boom in health plan choice

Philadelphia, PA - September 8, 2010 - Independence Blue Cross (IBC) announced today its launch of 25 newly created health care plans for small businesses, called Blue Solutions®, available beginning October 1, 2010.

Designed specifically with small businesses in mind — those with two to 50 employees — these plans are available in all the popular health plan formats that employers look to offer their associates: copay, deductible, and Health Savings Account (HSA) plans, all including prescription drug coverage. As the new plans make their way to small business workplaces, more people than ever before in our region will be offered an HSA option, as these plans have reached new heights in popularity.

“With parts of the new healthcare reform law taking effect in the next few months, we’re going to see more emphasis on individuals and employers taking accountability for their health and getting more actively engaged in their medical decisions,” said Daniel Hilferty, IBC’s president of health markets. “People who will be insured by the new Blue Solutions plans from IBC will be getting coverage that complies with healthcare reform provisions and encourages them to live a healthy lifestyle.”

The Blue Solutions plan options take the form of HMO, PPO, Direct Point-of-Service, or High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). The 25 different plans offer a solution to suit any group’s needs, including a comprehensive network of doctors and hospitals, prescription drug coverage, routine eye care, office visits, emergency care, hospitalization, and X-rays.

All 25 Blue Solutions plans offer 100 percent coverage for designated preventive care services – no copay or coinsurance is due from the member, in compliance with healthcare reform. They also involve no lifetime maximum or annual maximum for essential benefits. To select the plan right for them, business owners simply need to decide how much employees will pay when they see a doctor or go to the hospital, and how much flexibility their employees will have when they use healthcare services.

“The Blue Solutions are differentiated in the market because in addition to offering a wide range of health care services, they also include IBC’s signature Healthy LifestylesSM reimbursement programs — $150 back per year for fitness club fees, $200 back for approved smoking cessation programs and $200 back for approved weight loss programs,” said Linda Taylor, IBC’s chief marketing executive. “These, along with some new discount programs through Blue 365, are some of the value-add features that help our members make the most of their benefits, and help them strive for optimal wellness.”

“Some employers may have a hard time selecting the right plan for their company and might be interested in knowing that the HSA concept has really caught on in our region,” said Brett Mayfield, IBC’s vice president of sales. “When HSA-qualified plans were first introduced, the Philadelphia market was a bit reluctant to adopt the great value that the plans offer. But as costs in health care continue to rise, our market has evolved and our customers are more open to plan options that help reduce their costs and still offer quality coverage.”

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) recently released its 2010 Market Census of member plans, indicating that across the U.S., the number of people covered by HSA-qualified health plans jumped from 8 million in 2009 to 10 million in 2010. On the local level, IBC’s statistics showed even greater impact, with HSA-qualified plan sales in the small-group market up 109 percent from January 2009, to January 2010.

Mayfield said the challenging economy of the last few years has also been a factor leading employers to look for cost-saving options that will satisfy their employees. He says small business owners are now getting a better understanding of how HSA-qualified plans work, and seeing them as a smart way to offer quality benefits at an affordable price. Contributions can be made to HSA accounts by either the employer or the employee, or both.

“Employers and employees alike are interested in saving money, and when making a purchase, most consumers seek the best value for their hard-earned dollar,” Mayfield said. “Because members pay for some health care costs out of their health savings account until they meet their deductible, having an HSA plan encourages them to be better health care consumers and use common sense when making decisions about their care and treatment.”

Mayfield explained that in addition to affordability, HSAs offer multiple tax advantages:

  • HSA contributions are treated as business expenses and provide employer tax savings.
  • Employee HSA contributions reduce employees’ taxable income.
  • Interest earned is tax free when spent on qualifying expenses or tax deferred when spent on anything else after age 65.
  • Qualified medical expenses reimbursed from HSA accounts are tax free.

For more information about the Blue Solutions plan options, employers can contact their broker or call IBC at 215-241-3400.

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' 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.