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Press Release

IBC Launches Blue Solutions® Plans to Meet Small and Mid-sized Business Needs

Brokers predict the new plans, with additional flexibility, will be winners with their clients

Philadelphia, PA - November 22, 2011 - Independence Blue Cross (IBC) announces the launch of the new and enhanced popular Blue Solutions health care plans designed specifically for small and mid-sized businesses that employ between 2 and 99 people. Small businesses with 2 to 50 employees now have access to enhanced, more flexible Blue Solutions plans, while businesses with 51 to 99 employees can choose among the new Blue Solutions Plus portfolio.

"We strive to offer all of our customers health plans that fit — a variety of solutions to meet the health care needs of businesses in our region," said Linda Taylor, chief sales and marketing officer and senior vice president for IBC. "We understand the financial challenges that employers face when choosing health plans for their employees, and we want to offer choice and flexibility in pricing and benefit options. We are committed to helping businesses find plans that best meet their needs and to finding ways to keep their costs down."

"When we first launched the Blue Solutions portfolio in fall of 2010, it was designed to fit small businesses with 2 to 50 employees and our pledge was to continually update our products based on feedback from brokers and customers, so that we're always striving to offer the right plans at the right price," said Brett Mayfield, vice president of sales. "Recently, we enhanced our plans for these small groups and introduced medically underwritten products for new small business customers, while adding more flexibility to our prescription drug options. Now, we are excited to extend a similar portfolio, called Blue Solutions Plus, designed specifically for the needs of mid-sized customers with 51 to 99 employees."

"Brokers serve a valuable role for small and mid-sized business owners who are trying to make the best decisions they can from all the health care plan options available to them today," said Mayfield. "Our research shows that brokers' advice is the No. 1 most influential source for employers when making their health plan decisions, and so we worked closely with them over the past year to better understand what they are hearing from their customers about the changing needs of businesses in our region."

Blue Solutions for Businesses with 2 to 50 Employees
According to a survey conducted last year of 500 southeastern Pennsylvania employers, 80 percent said they reassess the health plans they offer their employees, and consider new options, every year. Cost was cited as the most important factor for changing health plans among all employers. For this reason, IBC is introducing two new Blue Solutions PPO plans that offer higher deductibles to allow customers to lower their monthly premium costs. IBC previously did not provide deductible-style PPO plan options for small groups. A deductible is the amount members pay out of pocket before insurance begins picking up any of the costs.

Another important enhancement in the Blue Solutions portfolio is the addition of alternate prescription plans available with each medical plan offering to broaden the variety and choice available to businesses. The new Blue Solutions prescription alternatives are identified with a '.1' at the end of their names. For example, HMO 1 is the original Blue Solutions medical, prescription, and vision plan. HMO 1.1 is the identical plan for medical and vision benefits with an alternative prescription option. By design, all of the Blue Solutions drug options encourage the use of generic drugs, which are safe, effective, lower-priced alternatives to brand drugs and help reduce health care costs overall.

"I have many clients who tell me they are willing to spend a little more on their monthly premiums in order to lower their copays," said Russ Carlson, health plan broker and president of BeneServ in Springfield, Pa. "But what works for one employer doesn't work for all, so I know my clients are going to be pleased with the new line-up of Blue Solutions options from IBC, especially with the flexibility in the prescription plan choices. The new plans will actually make my job a lot easier."

Blue Solutions Plus for Businesses with 51 to 99 Employees
Based on strong uptake in the small business market, and feedback from brokers on what mid-sized businesses are looking for in a health plan, IBC expanded Blue Solutions to mid-sized businesses, defined as those with 51 to 99 employees.  From those conversations, Blue Solutions Plus, a portfolio of health plans designed exclusively for mid-sized companies, was created. This product suite offers a total of 28 plans ranging from the Keystone Point of Service (POS) to a variety of Personal Choice® PPO plans. The plans are available in copay, deductible, and HSA-qualified high deductible health plan formats.

"One of the things we like about working with IBC is the way they include us in their product development, with open dialogue as a key piece of the partnership," said Ed Sweeney, vice president of broker relations for Emerson Reid & Co. "I've got a good feeling the new Blue Solutions Plus plans are going to be winners with our mid-sized group customers, since I think we now have the right combination of flexible plan design and price, balanced by a strong network of doctors and hospitals, and the Blue brand that people trust. It's also great to be able to tell clients that we were part of the product development process."

Three of the Blue Solutions Plus PPO plans have an integrated prescription drug benefit, and these plans are among the lowest-priced PPOs available to businesses in the region. These options are also HSA-qualified, meaning members can save tax-deferred money in a health savings account to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses. The other Plus plans allow customers to select any of nine prescription offerings to meet their employees' needs.

IBC's suite of Blue Solutions plans also offers a wide range of health care services and the popular Healthy LifestylesSM incentive programs that reimburse members $150 per year for fitness club fees, $200 for approved smoking cessation programs, and $200 for approved weight loss programs — features that help members strive for optimal wellness, and allow them to make the most of their health benefits.

Employers interested in Blue Solutions can speak to their brokers about getting a quote for their next plan renewal. They can also view the Blue Solutions small employers brochure (for businesses with 2 to 50 employees) or the Blue Solutions Plus brochure (for businesses with 51 to 99 employees.) All Blue Solutions health plans comply with health care reform.

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 3.1 million people. For 73 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. Visit us at Fan us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @ibx.

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