CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, in a continuing effort to address health care affordability, announced today beginning Aug. 1, 2003, sales and renewal rates for group products will reflect between a 5.3 to 11.8 percent base rate reduction. Reductions will vary by region and benefit plan.

"This is good news for both current and potential customers. For current customers, future rate increases will be tempered by this reduction. Potential customers will also realize this reduction during their initial sale," said Joan Harp, senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

The company cited several factors for the reduction.

"We are continuing to educate our members about health care affordability and how together we can help control costs. We’re lowering administrative costs, working with providers to hold down medical expenses, and designing new products to meet customers’ needs and budgets," Harp said.

"BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is concerned about the rising cost of health care," said Harp. "Helping to keep health care affordable is everyone’s concern and we have been aggressively addressing rising costs."

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.