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UniCare Introduces Consumer-Driven Health Products to Give Consumers a Bigger Role in Health Care Decisions

Solaura(R) to provide the information and incentives needed to help improve


CHICAGO, Oct. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- UniCare is now offering Solaura, a new line of health care plans designed to change the way consumers think about health care, help them lead healthier lives and help reduce the cost of health care in the long term.

UniCare announced earlier this year that it would launch a new line of consumer-driven health plans (CDHP) that would be available to large and small businesses, as well as individuals. Solaura will be available effective October 1, 2007, pending regulatory approval in some states.

"Our customers who choose these consumer-driven products will have new opportunities to live healthier lives," said Dennis Casey, UniCare president and CEO. "Our Solaura suite of products puts consumers in control of their health care dollars."

UniCare will offer the following core CDHP products:

-- Solaura(R) Health Reimbursement Account (HRA)

-- Solaura(R) Health Savings Account (HSA)

-- Solaura(R) Health Incentive Account (HIA)

-- Solaura(R) Health Incentive Account Plus (HIA+)

Consumers who select Solaura products may also be eligible for extensive preventive care and personal health coaching, as well as smoking cessation and weight management programs. In addition, consumers may be eligible to receive financial rewards for completing various wellness programs.

"We're providing our consumers with information-rich web-based tools that they can use to research prescription drug prices and estimated costs of care," Casey said.

UniCare's CDHP options combine health accounts with traditional PPO health coverage. Each is backed by powerful online decision support tools and personal health coaching that consumers can use to learn more about their health care treatment and cost options.

For example, when members complete an online health assessment, enroll in a program with a health coach, successfully complete a smoking cessation program or make other healthy lifestyle choices, they could be eligible to earn additional dollars in their health account to use for health care costs. These additional dollars could range from $50 to $200 depending on the employer, the plan and eligibility requirements. These unique features, combined with UniCare's network strength, innovative provider partnerships, local presence and brand name will provide unparalleled value to consumers.

"We know that a significant portion of health care costs are related to personal behaviors, such as smoking, poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyles. With our Solaura portfolio of products and services, we're helping to empower consumers through unique and robust online tools and incentives that encourage and reward them for choosing to live healthier lifestyles," Casey said.

Early evidence about consumer-driven health plans points to increased healthy behaviors by those who have chosen a health reimbursement account, health savings account, or health incentive account. According to a recently completed study by Knowledge Networks (August, 2007), consumers in these plans were found to be:

-- 17 percent more likely to participate in an exercise program than those

enrolled in non-CDHP programs

-- 15 percent more likely to participate in a stress management program

-- 14 percent more likely to participate in a smoking cessation program

-- 29 percent more likely to save for future medical expenses

-- 20 percent more likely to track their health care expenses

Additionally, consumers with chronic conditions are more likely to follow their treatment regimens. According to UniCare medical director Robert Sorrenti, M.D., "This is a telling figure for both members and their employees - because consumers with these conditions (such as diabetes or high blood pressure) generally have complex, sometimes expensive, health regimens that they must follow." Successfully following these regimens can mean better health outcomes and lower long-term costs.

"Solaura is a consumer-centric health plan which helps put decision making in the hands of the consumer while helping them improve their health," said Casey. "These products provide an opportunity for consumers to lead healthier lives and have more direct control over their health care dollars. For physicians, the products help create more informed patients who know what kind of questions to ask. And for employers, these products help engage employees and make them active partners in helping to control the rising cost of health care."

UniCare benefits products are offered in Illinois and Indiana by UniCare Health Insurance Company of the Midwest, in Texas by UniCare Health Insurance Company of Texas and in all 50 states and the District of Columbia by UniCare Life & Health Insurance Company. UniCare Life & Health Insurance Company, an Indiana corporation, UniCare Health Insurance Company of Texas, a Texas corporation, and UniCare Health Insurance Company of the Midwest, an Illinois corporation, are separately formed and capitalized subsidiaries of WellPoint, Inc., an Indiana corporation. For self-funded plans UniCare acts as a claim processor and does not insure benefits under the plan.

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