Chattanooga, Tenn.–Enhancing its already well-rounded array of tools for consumer education, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is now offering a live Consumer Coach for members participating in a consumer-directed health plan with an associated HSA or HRA. The move addresses the needs of consumers who are eager to try new insurance plan options, but are reluctant to, because the plans are so unfamiliar to them.

BlueCross Consumer Coaches will be available to assist commercial group insured members and help them better understand the details of high-deductible health plans and the financial arrangements that accompany them, direct them to BlueCross’ online tools and even instruct members about the IRS requirements associated with such accounts.

“The popularity of health savings accounts coupled with high-deductible health plans has brought a lot of new members to this unique insurance option, but many others are intimidated by the thought of venturing outside of the PPO structure that they know so well,” said Linda Andreae, BlueCross vice president of product performance. “We’ve put a lot of information on BCBST.com to help consumers manage their health care, but we realize that sometimes you just want to talk to a human being. That’s where our Consumer Coaches come in,” Andreae said.

Goldman Sachs estimates that the number of lives covered by consumer-directed health plans will grow from under 4 million in 2005 to 49 million by 2010.

BlueCross Consumer Coaches have been trained in ways to educate and advise members who have a financial arrangement like a health savings account (HSA), Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) or a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). The Consumer Coaches can provide callers with third party administration information, advise members about their specific benefits as well as guide them to a variety of online resources.

“As soon as someone signs up for a high-deductible health plan, our Consumer Coaches call them to welcome them and answer any questions they might have,” said Paul Kulpa, senior program manager CDHP. “One-on-one service is what people expect from BlueCross and we’re proud to offer this option to our members,” he said.

Consumer Coaches are available between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.

Recently, BlueCross added a 24/7 Nurseline for members. The 24/7 Nurseline features include unlimited toll-free access to specially trained Registered Nurses, 24-hours a day, 365-days a year. Nurseline services include extensive, reliable health care information and resources, TDD/Relay service for hearing impaired members, simultaneous translation services for more than 140 different languages, a comprehensive drug reference guide with detailed information on thousands of over-the-counter and prescription medications, medical guidelines that are continually reviewed, updated and approved by an independent group of board-certified physicians.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.