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S.C. BlueCross Expands Coverage for Preventive Colonoscopy Screening

February 28, 2008

Columbia, S.C. -- In advance of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina announced today that it has expanded coverage of preventive colonoscopy screening in a bid to help reduce colorectal cancer.

Previously, the company covered preventive colonoscopies under some plans and in other plans it was covered only for members who are high risk due to family history or who show indications of possible cancer. The company offered preventive screening coverage through an optional preventive benefit.

BlueCross now will include preventive coverage as a medical benefit for normal risk individuals in all of its Personal BluePlansSM. The benefit will follow guidelines set by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which recommends colonoscopy screening for people 50 and older once every 10 years.

"We looked at this issue and determined that preventive screening to low risk individuals would be valuable," said David Pankau, BlueCross BlueShield division president and chief operating officer.

"If we are able to help even one person avoid cancer who normally would not have had the preventive screening because they thought they were low risk, it will be worthwhile. We are happy to set the standard in South Carolina for preventive colonoscopy screening."

Sen. David Thomas, R-Greenville, and Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg also had comments about the importance of screening. "I thank BlueCross for stepping up to the plate and helping us to bring the issue to the public. Studies have shown that only about half of people older than 50 get a screening," said Sen. Thomas.

Rep. Cobb-Hunter commented: "I would like to thank BlueCross for joining the movement to expand CRC screening services and taking the lead to save lives and reduce the colorectal cancer burden in South Carolina. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related death in South Carolina and in the United States -- yet this is one cancer that can be prevented through screening."

The new benefit went into effect February 1. It applies to BlueCross’ fully insured customers, including more than 75,000 over age 50. BlueCross fully insured customers primarily are individuals or small groups who contract directly with the company or through agents. Health plans that are not fully insured by BlueCross but are administered by BlueCross are not included in the new benefit, as those groups decide their own coverage.

Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and its family of companies include more than 20 subsidiaries involved in health insurance services, U.S. DoD health plan and Medicare contracts, and other insurance and employee benefits services. Personal BluePlan is a Service Mark of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

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