NU Online News Service, Nov. 18, 2004, 8:22 p.m. EST

Blue Cross of California has designed an extreme health insurance program for young adults between the ages of 19 and 29.[@@]

The new Tonik plans cost $64 to $123 per month, and they are designed to appeal to young, healthy consumers who have not bought health coverage because they have a hard time understanding why they need health coverage, California Blue says.

California Blue, a unit of WellPoint Health Networks Inc., Thousand Oaks, Calif., points out that almost half of full-time workers in the Tonik age group lack employer-sponsored health benefits and that 1.6 million California residents in that age group lack health coverage.

The Tonik provides some coverage for preventive care, such as routine doctor visits, along with catastrophic coverage and some coverage for dental exams and eye exams, California Blue says.

For $64 per month, a young insured gets a plan with a $5,000 deductible, a $5,000 out-of-pocket maximum for care from in-network providers, no coinsurance payments, and a chance to see a doctor for routine office visits 4 times per year at a cost of $20 per visit.

California Blue will be marketing the plan mainly on the Web, and it will encourage young adults to apply through a quick, Web-based sales system.