CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Working to make affordable health care coverage available to all Tennesseans, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee today introduced BlueValue, a new low-cost health plan.

“Rising health care costs and the growing number of uninsured Tennesseans highlight the need for affordable coverage,” said Linda Andreae, vice president of product development for BlueCross. “People are looking for solutions to meet their health care needs, and BlueValue is a viable option for those individuals.”

BlueValue is a preferred provider organization (PPO) policy that offers preventive health, dental and pharmacy benefits for eligible Tennesseans and their dependent children. The plan provides 50 percent coinsurance for in- and out-of-network services, with no front-end deductible for policyholders taking advantage of negotiated Blue Network S rates.

According to Andreae, the new plan was designed to be valuable in terms of both cost and benefits.

“Cost is usually the biggest obstacle to coverage,” said Andreae. “The median family income in Tennessee is $4,000 below the national average, but even when individuals can afford insurance, many opt to spend those premium dollars on other things. Unfortunately they don’t realize the importance of health coverage to their physical and financial wellness.”

On average, medical charges for an uninsured person are about 90 to 100 percent higher than for an individual with coverage. For example, BlueCross claims data indicate that the average hospital charge of open-heart surgery in 2002 for covered members was approximately $27,000 versus the $54,000 liability faced by an uninsured person.

BlueValue joins BasicBlue as the newest low-cost offerings specifically designed to provide coverage to Tennesseans without access to employer-sponsored insurance.

BlueCross currently offers a wide range of personal health products to fit a variety of needs and budgets. To inquire about available coverage, call 1-888-416-3026.

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.