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HCSC to Offer Program Targeting Chronic Diseases Before They Start

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 General News J E 4
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CHICAGO, Oct. 14 Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC),the country's fourth largest health insurer through its Blue Cross and BlueShield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, is developing a newwellness program targeting a condition shown to be a precursor to obesity andmany of the chronic conditions related to it.

HCSC's program is based on results from a landmark employer pilot studythat identified and addressed Metabolic Syndrome (Met-S). After completing theprogram, 53 percent of the Met-S pilot study participants showed significantreversal for Met-S risk and participants lost an average of 15 pounds each.

"Metabolic Syndrome is characterized by a number of 'X' factors, includingelevated waist circumference, triglycerides, glucose and blood pressure, aswell as reduced HDL, or good cholesterol," said Paul Handel, MD, senior vicepresident and chief medical officer for HCSC. "For people who have three ormore of those factors, their chance of developing a chronic disease greatlyincreases. By identifying the factors and then engaging in a program toeliminate them as early as possible, a person can address a minor healthconcern before it becomes a debilitating, costly health complication."

One of HCSC's major employer groups, Brinker International, participatedin a landmark Met-S pilot study for its employees at its corporateheadquarters in Dallas. Brinker owns, operates or franchises more than 1,800restaurants around the world, including Chili's Grill & Bar, On the BorderMexican Grill & Cantina, Maggiano's Little Italy and Romano's Macaroni Grill.

"Brinker chose to participate in the pilot Metabolic Syndrome program tohelp our employees lead healthier and more productive lives," said TraceyPosey, work life manager for Brinker International. "With an average weightloss of 15 pounds per participant during the 10-week period, this wellnessoffering has improved the quality of life for many team members."

The program showed health improvements for participants who previouslystruggled with at least one of the following: diabetes, indigestion, lowenergy, headaches, low self confidence, weight issues, depression, difficultysleeping, high blood pressure or a lack of exercise.

"This program changed my life," said Victoria Hueck, a Brinker programparticipant. "By implementing it, I've been able to stop taking my diabetesmedication and greatly improve my overall health."

While still relatively unknown to the general public, Met-S is gainingattention around the world as a key area of focus for improving health andreducing the cost of health care. In April, Japan mandated that all of itscitizens over the age of 40 be tested for the syndrome. The country is alsorequiring companies to reduce the number of overweight workers by 10 percentin the next four years, and by 25 percent by 2015.

"HCSC wants to become a leader in addressing Metabolic Syndrome because ofthe realized and unrealized impact it has on the health of our members and ourcommunities, as well as the effect it has on the overall cost of health care,"added Handel. "The best way to reduce cost is to improve health."

About Health Care Service Corporation

Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, is thelargest customer-owned health insurer in the United States and the fourthlargest health insurer in the country overall, with 12.4 million members inits Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma andTexas. The company is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and BlueShield Association. HCSC also has a rating of AA- (Very Strong) from Standardand Poor's, Aa3 (Excellent) from Moody's and A+ (Superior) from A.M. BestCompany. For more information, visit http://www.HCSC.com.

SOURCE Health Care Service Corporation
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