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Blue Cross Launches Largest Selection of Individual Plans Available in Minnesota
Date:4/13/2009

New Consumer-Designed Health Plans Offer Broader Choice

EAGAN, Minn., April 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) today announced the largest array of individual health plan options available in the state for people looking to buy health insurance on their own. The new plans were designed with input from Minnesota consumers through a series of "design your own health plan" sessions, in which prospective individual buyers critiqued and ranked their favorite health plan features. The result is an entirely revamped line of Blue Cross individual health plans, with 38 different choices.

The expanded coverage options offer a variety of monthly premiums, deductible and network choices. Prices start at $60 a month and vary depending on the level of coverage and features purchased. All standard individual plans provide mental health benefits and most offer first-dollar coverage for preventive services (ranging from $200 to $300). Moreover, individual coverage from Blue Cross means access to some of the largest provider networks in Minnesota and nationwide through the BlueCard system.

Blue Cross has made all individual products available online, with Web-based application forms and electronic payment options - resulting in faster approval times and increased convenience for consumers.

Jamie Williams owns Minnesota Health Coverage, an independent health insurance agency in Minneapolis. His client base includes a number of self-employed people who make coverage selections based upon what health plans are offering in the individual market. Williams believes Blue Cross has made a departure from business as usual.

"Blue Cross has a lot more individual offerings now than at any other time I can recall," said Williams. "Health coverage is definitely not a 'one-size-fits-all' industry anymore, and Blue Cross gets that. There are some really innovative offerings in their new suite of products, including an individual plan that's designed to look and act like group coverage, which is something I've never seen before. They really have leapfrogged themselves in terms of selection."

Demand grows for individual health insurance

"Blue Cross invited a variety of consumers to attend multiple design sessions when we created these products and the response was loud and clear: consumers want a selection that lets them find the right product for their needs, all without breaking the household budget," said Shawn Patterson, marketing vice president for Blue Cross. "We had some surprises during the sessions. Some people wanted a very low monthly premium and were willing to accept a pretty large deductible in exchange. On the other end of the spectrum, others were comfortable paying a higher monthly premium if it meant more 'first dollar' or up-front coverage."

"We created a very flexible product line in response to this range of feedback. I think consumers will find a great selection in our new lineup. People really want the best match for their health, their family's health and their overall financial comfort level. Our early sales are showing purchases at all points along the spectrum of cost and coverage, so we think it really paid off to have such extensive consumer input into the product design. People are buying the way they said they would."

While employer-sponsored coverage continues to remain the most common form of private market health insurance in Minnesota, increased number of consumers are finding themselves in the individual health plan market - many for the first time. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the share of individual policies among all private coverage in the state increased by nearly 15 percent from 1998 to 2006 (A 6.1 to 7.0 percent increase).

All Blue Cross individual products are available now through a Blue Cross agent or directly at www.bluecrossmn.com.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota's first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. A nonprofit, taxable organization, Blue Cross is the largest health plan based in Minnesota, covering 2.8 million members in Minnesota and nationally through its health plans or plans administered by its affiliated companies. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago. Go to bluecrossmn.com to learn more about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.


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SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
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