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BCBSA Shares President Bush’s Goal Of Expanding Access To Health Saving Accounts

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(WASHINGTON – January 31, 2006) – The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) shares President Bush’s enthusiasm – as outlined in this evening’s State of the Union address – for empowering consumers to take greater control of their healthcare decisions through the availability of health savings accounts (HSAs) and supports the administration’s goal of further expanding consumer access to HSAs.

The future of consumer-directed healthcare products, such as HSAs, is bright. A recent survey from the Blues found that consumers currently enrolled in HSAs have experienced a high rate of satisfaction, are of all ages, and have health status similar to individuals enrolled in traditional coverage. In addition, the survey found that the number of previously uninsured currently enrolled in a HSA-eligible product was double that of enrollees in traditional insurance products.

As an affirmation of the system’s commitment to and optimism for HSAs, the Blues recently announced the creation of the Blue Healthcare Bank. The bank is an important step toward achieving the Blues' vision of a seamless healthcare system in which consumers have the information and tools they need to make more informed decisions about their healthcare. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans offer HSA-compatible products in all 50 states.

BCBSA also joins the president in advocating broad adoption of health information technology (IT). The Blues are committed to a healthcare system that delivers safe, efficient, and high-quality care for consumers – giving consumers greater value for their healthcare dollars – as well as increased administrative efficiency for providers, payers, and government. Through participation in the American Health Information Community, the Blues are working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services and the administration to accelerate the widespread use of health IT.

While the Blues share President Bush’s objective of slowing the rise of healthcare costs and improving access to care for all Americans, we have consistently pointed out that association health plans (AHPs), which would be exempt from critical state laws and regulation, will make matters worse on both fronts. Studies show that federal AHPs – essentially insurance companies run by association groups – will ultimately result in higher premiums for most small employers, unlimited premium increases for sicker workers and rampant healthcare fraud.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans believe that any legislation designed to reform the insurance market should be guided by three core principles: one set of rules for everyone; state regulation of all entities; and meaningful rules for consumer protections.

The Blues look forward to working with the administration to advance our common goals.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is made up of 38 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 94 million – nearly one in three – Americans.

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