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Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Indiana Releases State Health Index

Thursday, November 15, 2007 General News J E 4
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INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 14 Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield inIndiana today launched its new State Health Index, a program that incorporatespublic health data to identify and help address major health issues in thestate. Anthem has assembled a dedicated team to collaborate with local andstate officials, as well as community organizations, to research the reasonsbehind the prevalent health deficiencies and to design policy solutions andimplement or enhance programs aimed at improving overall health in the state.

Developed from data collected by the Centers for Disease Control andPrevention (CDC), the State Health Index ranks Indiana 43rd in the nationbased on a comprehensive assessment of 23 measures of health status. Anthemhas selected the following measures of improvement for its focus during thefirst several years of the State Health Index program as they have the mostpotential to be positively influenced by the actions of the company: prenatalcare in the first trimester, low birthweight infant rate, adult influenzaimmunization rate, adult pneumoncoccal immunization rate, physical activitylevels, cigarette smoking rate, diabetes in adult population and heart diseasedeath rate.

"As the largest health insurer in the state, we have a uniqueresponsibility to understand and improve not only the health of our members,but also the overall health of the communities in which they live," saidRobert W. Hillman, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Indiana president."The State Health Index will provide Indiana and our public and privatepartners-state and local government, insurers, health care professionals andconsumers-with a roadmap to guide our work to improve the overall health ofour state."

The State Health Index has revealed three particular public health issuesto be addressed in Indiana: the rate of low birth weight babies, theprevalence of cigarette smoking, (only one state has a higher smoking rate)and the number of adults who do not receive influenza immunizations.

To help reverse these trends, last year Anthem provided a multi-year grantto the March of Dimes for their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) FamilySupport Program at five hospitals around Indiana. The program is designed toimprove communication between NICU staff and parents, reduce the rate ofrepeat preterm births and decrease the financial impact on families and on thehealth care system. Studies show that reducing the rate of low birthweightbabies by 1 percent in Indiana would save more than $35 million in medicalcosts associated with treating these infants during their first year of life.

For the last decade, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield has providedfunding so that the Visiting Nurse Service can offer flu shots at a reducedcost to the community. In past years, more than 60 thousand Hoosiers havetaken advantage of this program, which will continue once again during thisyear's flu season to combat health complications arising from influenza.Public health data shows that it costs more than $100 million to treat thesymptoms of influenza in the over-65 population in Indiana.

Finally, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield this year worked with theIndiana State Department of Health, Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessationand others to support anti-smoking efforts and to speak out against marketingefforts designed to promote tobacco usage among young women. According topublished studies, by reducing the number of smokers by 1 percent, there wouldbe approximately 12,000 fewer smokers in the state which would result in a $30million savings in medical costs associated with smoking-related illnesses.

"Anthem shares our commitment to improving public health," said JudyMonroe, M.D., Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health."Whether the issue is childhood obesity, low birth weight babies or thestate's high smoking rate, Anthem has been a willing
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