Blue Cross of Idaho and WellPoint Health Networks announce joint venture

Blue Cross of Idaho and WellPoint Health Networks announce joint venture


Will offer existing and future multistate Blue Cross

customers access to quality, cost-effective provider

networks and specialized products

Blue Cross of Idaho and WellPoint Health Networks Inc. (NYSE:WLP) Thursday announced the creation of a joint venture designed to bring powerful national health-insurance resources to Idaho-based companies doing business in other states.

The venture, named Idaho Benefits Administration, is designed to help Idaho’s multistate corporations meet employee demands for user-friendly, cost-effective health-insurance programs with high-quality provider networks established in communities throughout the country.

The new company will also ease the administrative burdens faced by multistate corporations by integrating multiple benefit and service designs into a single, national system for administration and customer service.

Idaho Business Administration combines the forces of Blue Cross of Idaho, the state’s largest health insurer; WellPoint Health Networks, one of the nation’s largest publicly traded managed-care companies; and UNICARE Life & Health Insurance Co., a WellPoint subsidiary and major health-benefits provider operating on a national basis.

“The combined strengths of these companies will significantly enhance the services and health-care products available to Idaho-based national accounts and their employees,” said David L. Barnett, president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross of Idaho.

“UNICARE’s national health-care networks and the pricing available through its provider contracts will translate to lower costs for many of our multistate customers.”

In addition to the emphasis on national account businesses, the new arrangement will bring Blue Cross of Idaho opportunities to offer a wide variety of other specialized products and services, including an improved and expanded dental program.

“This joint venture also benefits UNICARE’s customers with employees in Idaho,” said Leonard D. Schaeffer, chairman and CEO of WellPoint. “By aligning ourselves with Idaho’s leading health insurer, we can bring the strength of the Blue Cross of Idaho network to employers in other states who have Idaho-based employees.”

Blue Cross of Idaho is Idaho’s largest health insurer, providing traditional health-care benefit coverage and managed-care benefit arrangements to more than 300,000 Idahoans through the state’s largest contracted provider network.

Blue Cross managed-health-care programs cover more than 33,000 customers statewide through HMOBlue, Idaho’s largest managed-care organization. Blue Cross of Idaho remains at the forefront in the development of community-based integrated delivery systems throughout the state.

WellPoint Health Networks, one of the nation’s largest publicly traded managed-care companies, serves the health-care needs of more than 5.9 million medical and more than 21 million specialty members nationally through two principal operating subsidiaries: Blue Cross of California in California, and UNICARE throughout other parts of the country.

Based in Woodland Hills, WellPoint offers a broad spectrum of quality network health plans provided through its health-maintenance organizations, preferred-provider organizations and specialty managed-care networks.

Specialty products include pharmacy-benefit management; dental; vision; mental health; life and disability insurance; flexible spending accounts; COBRA administration; Medicare supplements; and 24-hour integrated, network-based workers’ compensation coverage.

CONTACT: Blue Cross of Idaho

Tracy Andrus, 208/345-4550


WellPoint Health Networks

Larry Bryant, 818/703-2473

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