CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.-Now through Dec. 31, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can save on their out-of-pocket drug costs with the introduction of a copay-free offer on generic drugs.

Nearly 500,000 insured group and individual Under65 plan members will have their copays waived at retail locations or through home delivery when they order or refill a prescription with the generic equivalent of a brand-name drug.

The effort is part of the company’s continuing Demand Generics campaign, developed to educate Tennesseans on the safety, effectiveness and affordability of generic drugs.

"Generics are already a smart choice. They’re FDA approved, clinically equal to their brand-name counterparts, and cost 30 to 70 percent less than advertised drugs," said Dr. Terry Shea, director of pharmacy services for BlueCross. "And with the new copay-free offer, our members can save even more."

According to Shea, a person can save more than 20 percent on out-of-pocket costs when choosing a generic at the pharmacy. The average generic drug copay for BlueCross members is $7.73.

BlueCross claims data show that 714,000 generic prescriptions were filled between June and August 2004. Estimating a similar generic dispensing rate through the end of the year, the company expects to cover $5.5 million in copay costs for its members.

The copay-free waiver is intended to serve as a thank you to members who’ve already made the switch to generics and to encourage others to investigate the alternative of cost-effective generics.

"We hope that by waiving copays on generics that we give our members an incentive to choose generics whenever available and appropriate-a good choice that can help hold down health care costs for everyone," Shea said.

To take advantage of the generic copay waiver program, members with a drug card pharmacy benefit need only to present their generic drug prescription and BlueCross member ID card to their network pharmacist. For home delivery, members should simply submit their prescriptions to AdvanceRx.com. The offer runs from Oct. 18 through Dec. 31, 2004, and applies to covered prescriptions on new and refill orders of any FDA-approved generic drug.

Eligible members will receive information on the copay waiver program in the mail.

The copay-free offer is the latest effort in the Demand Generics campaign, which launched publicly in 2003. To date, the campaign has generated more than $20 million in savings for both BlueCross and its members.

To learn more about the value of generic drugs, Tennesseans should talk to their doctor or pharmacist. Information on generic drug alternatives and drug costs is also available on the BlueCross Web site at www.bcbst.com.

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.