Blue Cross of California Launches New Plan For Young People
Blue Cross of California on Wednesday introduced a health insurance plan targeted at people ages 19 to 29, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. In California, nearly 1.6 million people in that age range lack health insurance.
The plan, called Tonik, is the only one of its kind in the state, according to Blue Cross spokesperson Michael Chee. The preferred provider plans include vision, dental and prescription drug coverage. Maternity care is not covered. Most plans limit the number of annual physician visits, and copays vary. Monthly premiums for the plan range from $64 to $123 (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/18). Deductibles vary from $1,500 for the "calculated risk taker" plan, $3,000 for the "part-time daredevil" plan and $5,000 for the "thrill seeker" plan.
Blue Cross officials have targeted the plan's promotional campaign toward a group they call the "young invincibles." The campaign is intended to coincide with the winter sports season and the premiere this month of "Impact," a film about extreme skiing that Blue Cross is sponsoring (Wolfson, Orange County Register, 11/17).
Chee said the so-called young invincibles include people who recently have been taken off of their parents' health coverage or are working for an employer that does not offer it (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/18). Chee said, "There's money in it, it's good business, and they are the largest portion of the uninsured." He added that the campaign uses "guerrilla marketing."
Peter Lee, CEO of the Pacific Business Group on Health, said that the plan "fills a social need which is incredible, which is basically to educate the 'young immortals' that health insurance is a good thing" (Orange County Register, 11/17).
California HealthCare Foundation Senior Program Officer Marian Mulkey said, "It's definitely a market segment worth pursuing. There are certainly issues there about those younger adults having and keeping health insurance. The question is whether this particular menu of benefits and this level of cost sharing will make it attractive when taking in consideration all the competing budget demands" of people in the age group (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/18). She added, "I think it remains to be seen whether it will make a big difference or just a marginal difference" in the number of uninsured residents (Orange County Register, 11/17).