Insurer WellPoint plans online care option

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WellPoint Inc. is developing an online care option for patients to consult with doctors via their computers or over the phone,
the health insurer said Thursday.

Access to the site will likely begin in the fall.

WellPoint plans to build a network of primary care doctors and specialists who will be available any time to consult with
patients. Physicians will have access to patient records and be able to prescribe medicine or suggest follow-up care.

People with a sore throat or ear infection who don't have time to make an appointment can instead use the site, spokeswoman
Jill Becher said.

There, they will be able to communicate with doctors through a computer video link, a secure chat online or by phone.

The insurer plans to start the network in a few select markets and eventually make it available for all customers, Becher

WellPoint is the largest health insurer based on enrollment, with 33.8 million members. It runs Blue Cross Blue Shield plans
in 14 states and Unicare plans in several others.

The Indianapolis-based managed care company will develop the program with American Well, using its Online Care platform.

American Well, a privately held company based in Boston, also has developed online care programs for drugstore operator Rite
Aid Corp. and other insurers.

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