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WellPoint, BCBSA, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida and HCSC Collaborate to Expand Access to Health Care Cost Information
Date:7/30/2009

INDIANAPOLIS, July 30 /PRNewswire/ -- WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE: WLP), Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida and Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, today announced plans to collaborate to provide access to WellPoint's cost comparison tool, an online, consumer-friendly health care cost information tool. With this expansion, more than 48 million Americans will have access to valuable cost information.

"We developed this transparency tool in 2006 for use by members in our health plans, with the goal of creating well-informed consumers of health care," said Angela Braly, president and CEO, WellPoint, Inc. "We are pleased to be working with other Blue companies so that even more members can have access to clear, concise health cost information in major cities across the country."

"One of the most important ways that we as health insurers can add value to the health care system is by analyzing and providing access to meaningful information," said Paul Handel, MD, chief medical officer for HCSC. "This easy-to-access online tool will help our members increase their knowledge as patients and identify opportunities to spend their health care dollars more wisely."

Using Care Comparison, the name of the tool to be used by the Blue companies, these Blue companies will provide the total estimated cost ranges associated with approximately 35 specific medical procedures performed at more than 2,800 local hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, free-standing radiology facilities or other medical facilities.

The estimated cost ranges provided through Care Comparison are based on combining related services typically performed at each facility at the time of the procedure, not just the procedure itself. In addition, the cost ranges are facility-specific so members can compare the differences in cost between area facilities. Ranges of health care cost information will initially be rolled out on a limited basis in each of these states.

"In today's retail environment, consumers are becoming more involved in managing their health care - that is not easy in a complex system," said Craig Thomas, chief marketing officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida. "Providing detailed cost and quality information through Care Comparison and our full service contact points allows us to partner with our members and providers to help them make effective and cost-efficient decisions. We feel this type of service and information is essential to the future of our nation's health care system."

Additionally, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) has selected Care Comparison as its platform for a national transparency solution for all Blue Plans. BCBSA will use the treatment categories and cost methodology as the core component for its consumer-facing online cost estimation tool.

"Our adoption of Care Comparison as the Blues' system-wide methodology for provider data transparency is our latest effort to give our customers the information they need to make the best health care decisions," Scott Serota, President and CEO of BCBSA, said. BCBSA will continue to refine and enhance the transparency tool under the guidance of the Care Comparison Steering Committee, which will include representatives from Blue plans across the country.

This arrangement enables BCBSA, WellPoint's affiliated health plans and other Blue plans to continue to work with physicians and facilities to provide members with meaningful health care cost data. In turn, members can make more informed choices about their health and health care spending. The tool will be customized to reflect the local ownership and health plan in each state, but members will have access to the same information from all states involved with the program.

About WellPoint, Inc.:

WellPoint, Inc. is the largest health benefits company in terms of medical membership in the United States. WellPoint is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and serves its members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), Wisconsin; and through UniCare. Additional information about WellPoint is available at www.wellpoint.com.

About HCSC:

Health Care Service Corporation is the country's largest customer-owned health insurer and fourth largest health insurer overall, with 12.4 million members in its Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. A Mutual Legal Reserve Company, HCSC is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. HCSC has a rating of AA- (Very Strong) from Standard and Poor's, Aa3 (Excellent) from Moody's and A+ (Superior) from A.M. Best Company. For more information, visit www.HCSC.com.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida:

Celebrating 65 years as Florida's leader in the health industry, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida is mission-driven to improve affordable access to health care. BCBSF is a not-for-profit, policyholder-owned, tax-paying mutual company. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., BCBSF is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information about BCBSF, please visit www.bcbsfl.com.

About BCBSA:

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 39 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 100 million individuals - one-in-three Americans. For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit www.BCBS.com.


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SOURCE WellPoint, Inc.
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