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Chamber BlueOptions Insurance Adds to its Options and Benefits for 2009 Suite of Insurance Plans Meeting Small Business Needs
Date:11/6/2008

AUGUSTA, Maine, Nov. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Building on the successful launch on a new line of insurance options for small businesses in Maine, the Maine State Chamber Purchasing Alliance, Inc., local chambers and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield have announced further additions to its Chamber BlueOptions product line for 2009. Starting in January, Chamber BlueOptions will include eight health plans from HMO and PPO options with varying levels of deductibles to consumer driven health plan options.

"Both employers and employees of small businesses are surprised by the variety of choices they have to meet their employees own insurance needs," said Dana Connors, President of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. "Small businesses are getting a range of health plan choices usually only available to a large company."

The plan options have been increased from seven to eight options for 2009. Chamber BlueOptions health plans are available to small businesses with 2-50 employees and self-employed people who are members of a Chamber of Commerce at the regional or local level. The suite of insurance plans is a joint offering of the Maine State Chamber Purchasing Alliance, Inc., local chambers and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine. Unlike most insurance plans for small businesses, the eight options are available for each employee to choose from, rather than a typical "one size fits all" approach. For example, a twelve person firm with eight employees electing health insurance coverage from their employer could have their employees choose eight different plans under Chamber BlueOptions -- an unprecedented choice for a small business.

More than 500 small businesses representing over 3,000 employees have chosen Chamber BlueOptions for their health insurance. More than twenty percent of enrollees did not previously have health insurance.

"Chamber BlueOptions is clearly meeting a need of small businesses in Maine for greater choice in health insurance options and our local chamber partners are pleased about its success in the marketplace," said Connors. "Our local and regional chambers are proud to be offering new and unique products to expand health care coverage to more Maine people."

Created as an independent affiliate of the Maine State Chamber, the Maine State Chamber Purchasing Alliance, Inc. offers small businesses who are members of a local or regional chamber of commerce a suite of eight health plans including four PPO (preferred provider organization) plans with different deductibles and coinsurance levels, two HMO (health maintenance organization) plans and two Health Savings Account plans.

In addition to its expanded choices of plans, only 60% of a small businesses' eligible employees must participate to qualify for group coverage. Typically, the minimum threshold for participation is 75% of eligible employees.

In addition, Purchasing Alliance members can qualify for a discount on annual premiums if they undertake certain wellness activities. "As far as we know, this is the only small group insurance product in Maine that rewards employers for taking wellness seriously," said Connors. The discount would become available at the employees' annual renewal.

"Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is proud to team up with local and regional chambers of commerce in Maine to offer enhanced health coverage choice and flexibility for Maine's small business community," said Dan Corcoran, president, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine. "The more products and choices consumers have, the greater the likelihood they will find an insurance product that meets their individual needs."

Chamber BlueOptions is available to local and regional chamber members through their local insurance broker or through the Maine State Chamber web site. (http://www.chamberblueoptions.com)

About the Maine State Chamber of Commerce ...

The Maine State Chamber of Commerce represents a diverse network of 5,000 businesses statewide and advocates on behalf of their interests before the Legislature and regulatory agencies and through conferences, seminars, and affiliated programs. Through its OneVoice program, the Maine State Chamber represents thousands of businesses with fewer than 10 employees. Its Grassroots Action Network works to involve members and their employees in the legislative process through outreach campaigns.


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SOURCE Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine
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