|WellChoice Expands Broker Web Portal; Ability to Renew Groups Online and Generate Multi-Region Quotes Now Available|
NEW YORK, Nov 23, 2004 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- WellChoice, Inc., (NYSE: WC) announced today that its primary operating subsidiary, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, expanded its Broker Online Services web portal this week to give brokers the ability to renew groups sized 2-50 online and generate multi-region quotes 24x7 with the click of the mouse.
Brokers using the company's web-based service can now view and submit upcoming group renewals online. In addition, the expanded website will let brokers create quotes for an employer group with employees residing in more than one of the company's five rating regions for HMO and point of service (POS) plans.
"Broker Online Services allows brokers to help themselves and in the process allows us to leverage technology to help control administrative costs related to the small group market," said Michael A. Stocker, M.D., president and chief executive officer of WellChoice. "We have approximately 35,000 accounts with 50 or fewer employees in New York. Many of them add and subtract members, dependents, etc., on a monthly basis and make benefit and product changes annually. In the past, all of this would have had to be done by phone calls and on paper. The use of the portal to make these changes online is growing rapidly, resulting in substantial savings in administrative dollars and improved customer satisfaction."
Launched in October 2000, Broker Online Services provides brokers with the online functionality to create and review quotes and proposals for groups sized 2-50; enroll accounts; add, change or terminate group members; update employee and dependent information; and request new ID cards and print temporary ones. Nearly 150,000 transactions were conducted on this dedicated portal during the first nine months of 2004.
Some of the information contained in this press release is forward-looking, including statements relating to future financial or business results. Forward-looking information is based on management's estimates, assumptions and projections and is subject to significant uncertainties and other factors, many of which are beyond the company's control. Important risk factors could cause future results to differ materially from those estimated by management. Those risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to: our ability to accurately predict health care costs and to manage those costs through underwriting criteria, quality initiatives and medical management; product design and negotiation of favorable provider reimbursement rates; our ability to maintain or increase our premium rates; possible reductions in enrollment in our health insurance programs or changes in membership; the regional concentration of our business in the New York metropolitan area and the effects of economic downturns in that region or generally; future bio-terrorist activity or other potential public health epidemics; the impact of health care reform and other regulatory matters; the outcome of litigation; and the potential loss of our New York City account. For a more detailed discussion of these and other important factors that may materially affect WellChoice, please see the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the discussion of risk factors and historical results of operations and financial condition in its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2003, as amended, and its Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the 2004 reporting periods.
SOURCE: WellChoice, Inc.