JULY 2003

Making Things Better for Brokers.
We've initiated several changes in service to save you time and make account management more convenient and easier than ever!

Over the last year Empire has greatly improved the lines of communication with our brokers. In addition to launching the broker e-newsletter, we have enhanced Broker Online Services, developed new broker handbooks and introduced the broker delinquent e-mail notification program which alerts brokers and group benefit administrators about a group's past due premium bill.

Also in the past year, we have seen the average response time at the GBA and Broker Contact Center shrink to less than 30 seconds.

We've also installed a user-friendly Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) system at the GBA and Broker Contact Center to provide quick answers to most questions. The number remains the same, 1-866-422-2583, and you can easily connect to an Empire representative if you need to.

And we're happy to report the average installation time for small groups is now less than 14 days, while the average small group claim is processed in four days or less.

Service Improvements Make Account Management Easier.

If your account has given you administrative authority, you can now take advantage of measures Empire has taken to expedite a number of group and member transactions.

You can make many member or group changes online in real time including member Name Change, Address Change, PCP Change, Info Request, and Termination and Reinstatement. Simply log on to or register for Broker Online Services at www.empireblue.com.

New forms have been created to make the following fax transactions faster and more convenient:
  • Member Name Change
  • Member Address Change
  • Member Primary Care Physician (PCP) Change
  • Member Information Request for:
    Benefit packages (one per family/contract)
    Replacement identification (ID) cards for member, his/her family or specific dependents
    Member enrollment status (for entire contract)
  • Termination and Reinstatement
  • Group Info Request for:
    Group status including billing invoice-related information by group and/or subgroup including group active or inactive, bill prepared to date, payment date, amount of bill and status of payment
And for small groups (2–50) there are forms for:
  • Group Contact Rep Change
    To change the group's contact person by group and or subgroup
  • Group Billing Info Update
    To change the group's billing contact and/or billing address, telephone number and/or fax number
To request these forms you can download "Request for Forms" from the "Document Library" within the Broker section of www.empireblue.com.

We will be notifying GBAs with groups sized 10–500 of these service improvements in a mailing the first week in august.

Important Changes to Empire's Formulary.

To ensure that our formulary is providing the broadest coverage possible for our members, the thousands of drugs on the list are reviewed several times a year by Empire's Pharmacy and Therapeutics (P&T) Committee and revised as appropriate. The P&T Committee recently updated the formulary, adding and removing certain medications.

For the most up-to-date listing of our formulary, please direct members to www.empireblue.com. If they find that a medication they are currently taking is no longer on the formulary, they should be advised to ask their doctors about switching to safe, effective, low-cost alternatives that are included in the formulary.

A mailing notifying members of these changes was sent in mid-July. This mailing included a list of the medications that were deleted as well as a list of alternatives. The mailing also included dates that the members will no longer be able to obtain their removed prescription. We also plan to include a reminder in the fourth quarter Member Newsletter.

Broker Relations and Account Services Moving!

Broker Relations and Account Services based in New York City will be moving permanently to our new facility at 9 MetroTech South in Brooklyn, New York this fall. Since September 11, 2001, these two areas have been in a temporary location in Manhattan. There will be no interruption in service. The telephone number for Broker Relations will remain the same, however the Account Services telephone number will change, as will the fax numbers for both areas. Please stay tuned for more details and the new contact information in the August Broker Newsletter.

Broker Relations has a full-time staff dedicated to serving brokers writing new business for 2–50 groups. The Broker Relations staff can assist you in:
  • Getting quotes and proposals
  • The sales process
  • Obtaining marketing materials
  • Answering questions on Empire's product suite
Every Empire group with more than 24 contracts or more than 50 eligible employees receives a dedicated Account Service Representative (ASR). The ASR is responsible for helping to resolve any issues the group may have, including:
  • Claims adjustments
  • Membership and/or billing issues
  • Access-to-care situations
  • Product/benefit interpretations
  • Clarification of medical policy
  • Resolution of provider/network issues
  • Assistance with open enrollments

Check Out the Exciting New Changes at www.empireblue.com.

The Empire website has been redesigned! Now visitors need only click on the appropriate tab to get information tailored for "Members," "Employers," "Brokers," "Physicians" or "Facilities." One click on the "Brokers" tab will bring you to important documents, plan information and industry-specific news. Then all you have to do is log in to Broker Online Services to perform secure transactions, such as getting quotes and proposals.

Modifications in Healthy New York Health Plan.

There are a number of changes to New York State's Healthy NY Health Plan that will benefit groups covered under Empire.
  • Co-payments are no longer required for children's preventive visits and immunizations, resulting in lower costs for members.

  • Eligibility guidelines and recertification requirements have been expanded to encourage enrollment.

  • A new plan has been introduced that provides coverage at a lower cost through the exclusion of prescription drugs. Groups may purchase the "no Rx plan" option as a new group or upon renewal. Since this is considered a reduction in coverage, a group may elect to change to this plan prior to their renewal date. However, once a group has selected the "no Rx plan" option, they may not change back to the option with the Rx plan until their next renewal date.

  • New rates have been approved for Empire by the New York State Insurance Department that will be reflected in group bills.

  • Empire's rating methodology has changed. It has converted from a guaranteed 12-month premium (no changes until the anniversary or renewal date) to non-guaranteed rates.
For more information contact your Empire account representative or Broker Relations.


NAME: Hirsch Wolf

Hirsch Wolf & Company, Inc. New York, New York

YEARS AS A BROKER: Hirsch has been in the business for a total of 45 years.

KEY SELLING POINT: The excellent service Wolf and his clients receive, not only from Empire's sales rep, but from the internal support staff as well.

Services provided by Empire HealthChoice HMO, Inc. and/or Empire HealthChoice Assurance, Inc., licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of Independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.

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