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Independence Blue Cross Members Have Broadened Network With Addition of MinuteClinic

October 14, 2008

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 14 /PRNewswire/ — It happens just about every weekend in every emergency room. A child is brought in for treatment for a non-emergency illness such as strep throat. Family doctors and pediatricians typically do not have office hours on Saturday night or Sunday so worried parents often obtain treatment at the ER. Until now, seeking treatment in an emergency room may have been their only option. Independence Blue Cross’ (IBC) Personal Choice(R) members now have a new option: retail clinics.

IBC announced today that, beginning this month, MinuteClinic, which operates retail clinics nationwide, is now a participating health care provider within IBC’s PPO network, enhancing access to care for those IBC members who have Personal Choice coverage. In the southeastern Pennsylvania region there are currently 17 MinuteClinic locations and several more locations are expected to open throughout the area within the next year.

“We want to ensure that our members can achieve and maintain the best possible health outcomes,” said Dr. I. Steven Udvarhelyi, Independence Blue Cross chief medical officer. “That means offering the right programs and facilitating access to high-quality, cost-effective care. Our members lead hectic lives and MinuteClinic retail-based health settings can provide a convenient alternative for common health problems when a member is unable to see his or her primary care physician.”

MinuteClinic is conveniently located inside select CVS/pharmacy stores nationwide. Walk-ins are welcome; no appointment is necessary. PPO members will just show their member identification card and pay their usual out of pocket cost for a primary care visit, which offers an immediate savings for members who might have used an ER instead.

A record of each member visit and the type of care provided can be sent to the member’s family doctor. IBC encourages members to continue to use their primary care physician as their first point of care for common health problems and to recognize that retail health clinics are not meant to treat serious illness or emergency situations.

“Making available this new option for treatment of minor conditions is one more way IBC is helping to improve access to quality care, while reducing some health care costs for our group customers and Personal Choice members, given that this care setting is less expensive than emergency or urgent care settings,” said Dr. Udvarhelyi. “Over time we would expect to see a decrease in some ER visits, as our members begin using MinuteClinic for non-emergencies when their doctor’s office is not accessible. This could positively impact health care cost trends,” he added.

“Independence Blue Cross shares our goals of creating consumer-driven health care solutions that provide convenient access and deliver cost savings,” said Chip Phillips, president of MinuteClinic. “By offering quality treatment in a convenient setting, we are working with IBC to help reduce health care expenses for their members as well as time spent away from their families and the workplace.”

MinuteClinic locations are overseen by medical directors and staffed by certified registered nurse practitioners who diagnose, treat, and prescribe medications for certain common family illnesses, such as strep throat, bronchitis, and ear, eye and sinus infections when clinically appropriate. Other examples of health services include treatment for allergies, bladder infections, tick bites, flu, and minor burns. MinuteClinic also offers health screenings, pregnancy testing, vaccinations, and camp physicals.

Open seven days a week, typical hours of operation of MinuteClinic are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Supervising physicians are on-call during all clinic hours of operation to provide guidance and direction when necessary.

MinuteClinic provides treatment that follows nationally established clinical practice guidelines from the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Find participating MinuteClinic locations at http://www.ibx.com/ or through IBC’s member portal at http://www.ibxpress.com/. For locations outside the Personal Choice service area, members can find participating MinuteClinic sites by visiting http://www.bcbs.com/healthtravel/finder.html.

About Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. IBC and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.4 million people nationwide. For 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. For more information visit http://www.ibx.com/.

About MinuteClinic

Minneapolis-based MinuteClinic is a subsidiary of CVS Caremark Corporation , the largest provider of prescriptions in the nation. MinuteClinic launched the first retail health care centers in the United States in 2000 and is the first provider to establish a national presence with more than 540 locations across the country. The company has generated more than 2 million patient visits, with a 95 percent customer satisfaction rating. MinuteClinic is the first and only retail health care provider to receive accreditation from The Joint Commission, the national evaluation and certifying agency for nearly 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. For more information, visit http://www.minuteclinic.com/.

Independence Blue Cross

CONTACT: Karen Burnham of Independence Blue Cross, +1-215-241-3106,Karen.Burnham@ibx.com

Web site: http://www.ibx.com/http://www.ibxpress.com/http://www.minuteclinic.com/




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