Sunday, September 25, 2005

BCBS Press Release 9-22-2005

Individual Health Savings Account Rounds Out One of Nation's Deepest Consumer-Driven PortfoliosNC's market leader in individual coverage offers innovative product with significant tax advantages
Chapel Hill, N.C. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) today announced its first health savings account (HSA) product for individuals. The new product, Blue Options HSASM, will be available beginning Nov. 7, 2005 for Jan. 1, 2006 effective dates.
In addition to the individual HSA product, BCBSNC also has an enhanced group HSA offering and a brand-new health reimbursement account (HRA) product. The new group HSA and HRA products will be available beginning Oct. 10, 2005 for Jan. 1, 2006 effective dates. This creates one of the deepest portfolios of CDHP health plans in the country, allowing BCBSNC to match groups and individuals with the product that is "just right" for them.
By pairing a high deductible health plan (HDHP) with an HSA product, consumers have more control of their health care dollars. They may also make health coverage more affordable for many — especially small businesses and individuals buying their own coverage.
"HSAs give individuals the option of managing some of their own health care dollars through accounts they own and control, creating new incentives for members to be wise consumers of medical care," said BCBSNC President and CEO Bob Greczyn. "Health care is constantly evolving," Greczyn said, "and BCBSNC is keeping pace with that change by offering a new and completely different way for consumers to manage their health care expenses."
"We're working to make these plans easy for consumers and employers to use by allowing members to arrange their insurance coverage and HSAs in one purchase — rather than shopping for their HSA-qualified plan and HSA account separately as many of our competitors require. And we're making it simpler for our members to manage these accounts by offering an integrated Web portal that displays all health care claims and financial account transactions in one place, on one screen," Greczyn said.
"We see the HSA model as the convergence of the health care and financial services industries," said BCBSNC Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing John Roos. "This convergence required a technological innovation that brings together health care information and savings account information in one place, allowing consumers to manage their HSA transactions easily."HSAs offer many advantages for consumers not typically found in other health plans:
Contributions to the HSA are tax-deductible.
Interest income on HSA accounts is tax-free.
HSA withdrawals can be used to pay for any qualified medical expense tax-free.
Employers and employees can both contribute to an individual's HSA.
HSAs are portable, and an individual immediately owns all funds deposited in his or her HSA.
Unspent balances roll over from year to year.

Kaiser Permanente Press Release 6-23-2005

Kaiser Permanente Introduces Website for Bilingual Latinos
PASADENA, Calif. -- With the words "Because you live in two worlds, our website does too," Kaiser Permanente announced today that it has launched an innovative bilingual model on its award-winning website designed to provide health information linked from English to Spanish, en Espanol, side by side.
La Guia, at www.kp.org/espanol, is the new guide for Kaiser Permanente members that provides them with online health information in Spanish. It is designed to meet the needs of members who are either more comfortable with Spanish or are bilingual and want to look up health information for a Spanish-speaking family member. The majority of Kaiser Permanente members surveyed said that a "side-by-side" model (having La Guia and the icon n-tilde [~] on English pages) is logical and useful. English and Spanish can be used together, rather than creating a separate, stripped-down Spanish site. Latino testing showed a stand-alone, Spanish-only sub-site would provide less value to bilingual audiences than the side-by-side solution.
Users can browse the site in English and click the n-tilde icon to see relevant Spanish content. La Guia will direct users to several Spanish resources, including a drug encyclopedia with over 6,000 entries, a Healthwise(R) Online Spanish Health Encyclopedia with more than 200 topics, and articles on featured health topics with printable healthy living brochures.
Latinos are the largest ethnic group in Kaiser Permanente's membership. Kaiser Permanente's Latino members comprise 15.2% of membership, about 1 million members nationwide.
To access the new Spanish-language information, go to www.kp.org/espanol, www.kaiserpermanente.org/espanol, or www.members.kp.org, and look for the n-tilde symbol, or ~. The n-tilde on the English language page points to relevant Spanish content in La Guia en Espanol.
An online Flash video, in Spanish, is also available on La Guia en Espanol to explain how to find and use the Spanish features and content on kp.org. For prospective members, information in Spanish will be added in 2006.
Kaiser Permanente will use what is learned from the guide page model of the Guia site to expedite the addition of other languages to www.kp.org.
Kaiser Permanente's strategy is to intermingle all languages in a single site, rather than to create a separate website for each language. Having information available in multiple languages on www.kp.org will allow Kaiser Permanente to attract, serve, and retain an increasingly diverse membership.
Kaiser Permanente (www.kaiserpermanente.org) is America's leading integrated health plan. Founded in 1945, it is a nonprofit, group practice prepayment program with headquarters in Oakland, Calif. Kaiser Permanente serves the health care needs of 8.3 million members in 9 states and the District of Columbia. Today it encompasses the nonprofit Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and their subsidiaries, and the for-profit Permanente Medical Groups. Nationwide, Kaiser Permanente includes approximately 140,000 technical, administrative and clerical employees, and caregivers, and more than 11,000 physicians representing all specialties.

Kaiser Permanente Press Release 9-12-2005

Kaiser Permanente physicians dispatched to care for evacuees
Team will provide medical care at Houston health centers; evacuees also offered Kaiser Permanente care in Northern California
OAKLAND, Calif.– A team of Kaiser Permanente physicians left California today (Sept. 12) to provide medical and public health services to victims of Hurricane Katrina.“As the nation’s largest medical group and as an organization with a 50-year history of coming to the assistance of those in need, we are committed to helping people affected by this disaster,” Dr. Robert Pearl, CEO and executive director of The Permanente Medical Group (TPMG) said. “Hundreds of our physicians and employees have volunteered for this service. We are pleased to be able to respond to this request from the federal government.”
The Kaiser Permanente mission, which comes at the request of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of the Surgeon General, is to provide care at Houston, TX, community health centers to evacuees from the hurricane-ravaged Gulf region. The team consists of seven physicians – two pediatricians, three internists and two family physicians – and a family therapist from Kaiser Permanente medical centers in Northern California.
In addition to deploying physicians, Kaiser Permanente will open the doors of its medical centers throughout Northern California to serve evacuees who are in need of medical care and are without means of obtaining care.
“Physicians and Kaiser Permanente employees at our medical centers are willing and eager to help with any community-based relief efforts,” said Dr. Sharon Levine, TPMG associate executive director, who is leading the medical group’s relief efforts.
Pearl added that earlier this year, when the Tsunami struck Southeast Asia, TPMG mobilized quickly send physician teams to both Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Based on that experience, TPMG has been poised to respond to requests from federal and state authorities for help with Hurricane Katrina disaster relief.
The request for medical assistance from California developed over the weekend from the Office of the Surgeon General and in coordination with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.