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New Empire BlueCross BlueShield Prism Plans Offer Better Choice and Affordability for New York Small Group Market

NEW YORK, Oct. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Empire BlueCross BlueShield today announced the launch of its Empire Prism suite of health plans, a more affordable solution for employers who want to offer their employees a comprehensive health plan without a high premium price. Empire will make this "premium plan without the premium price" available beginning Jan. 1, 2008, pending New York Department of Insurance approval.

Empire Prism plans are designed specifically to meet the needs of small and mid-sized businesses (two to 200 employees) in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York state, seeking to provide their employees with the same broad Empire BlueCross BlueShield coverage that large employers enjoy, but with a price and benefit design tailored to meet their needs.

According to a 2005 report from the Association of Health Insurance Plans, small group policies in New York are among the most expensive in the United States, and more than half of the employed uninsured work for firms with fewer than 25 employees.

"More than two-thirds of New York's employed uninsured adults earn less than $70,000. Our Prism plans were designed with these individuals and companies in mind," said Mark Wagar, president and CEO of Empire BlueCross BlueShield. "Our customers in this segment said they wanted a plan that did not have the high up-front costs associated with many recent offerings, without compromising quality or accessibility to our broad New York and nationwide provider networks. We listened."

Empire Prism plans allow employers the flexibility to choose not to offer high deductibles or coinsurance and preventive services are covered at 100 percent. Additionally, no referrals are required for patients to seek services from network providers. Further attractive advantages of Empire Prism plans include:

- Strong network: By choosing Prism consumers will have access to the

largest New York network as well as the largest network across the

country through the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association's BlueCard

network. Our local New York network includes more of New York

Magazine's top doctors for eight consecutive years than any other area


- Comprehensive benefits: Prism members will have 100 percent coverage on

key health screenings; no member co-pay or coinsurance payments on

annual in-network preventive care visits; and no in-network deductibles

available for "first dollar" coverage, which is an insurance policy

that pays the full value of a loss, without a deductible, up to the

limit of the policy coverage.

- Health and wellness: Prism offers a standard comprehensive suite of

health and wellness offerings through 360 degree Health, one of the

most robust benefit programs in the industry to comprehensively address

preventive care, health improvement and care coordination. The

program includes access to fitness club discounts, vision care

services, access to a 24/7 Nurse Line, weight management programs, and


- Affordability: Empire Prism plans are more affordable than most

comparable EPO/PPO plans in the marketplace.

"Empire's Prism plans provide small employers and their brokers with the simplicity of a single solution for their employees, with a breadth of choice that our clients have come to expect," said Wagar.


Lisa Greiner

(212) 476-7011

Investor Relations:

Michael Kleinman, 317-488-6713

About Empire BlueCross BlueShield

Empire BlueCross BlueShield (Empire) is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice Assurance, Inc., and Empire BlueCross BlueShield HMO is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice HMO, Inc., independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, serving residents and businesses in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York State. Empire, the largest health insurer in New York State based on PPO and HMO membership, is a subsidiary of WellPoint, Inc. Additional information about Empire is available at

SOURCE Empire BlueCross BlueShield
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