INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 16 WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE: WLP), thenation's largest health benefits company by medical membership, todayannounced plans to collaboratively partner with four Blue Cross and/or BlueShield plans across the country to provide access to online, consumer-friendlyhealth care cost information.
The health plans participating with WellPoint in this initiative areHighmark Inc. (Pennsylvania), Premera Blue Cross (Washington), Blue Cross andBlue Shield of Minnesota, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Through thepartnership, these Blue plans will provide the total estimated cost rangesassociated with 39 specific medical procedures performed at a local hospital,outpatient surgery center, free-standing radiology facility or other medicalfacility.
"An essential step in transforming consumers' role in their own healthcare decisions is to provide access to clear information about health carecost and quality," said Angela F. Braly, president and CEO, WellPoint, Inc."Our goal is always to work collectively with other Blue plans to enhance theofferings and programs available throughout the country."
Ranges of health care cost information will initially be rolled out on alimited basis in each of these states. The estimated cost ranges providedthrough this partnership are based on combining related services typicallyperformed at each facility at the time of the procedure, not just theprocedure itself. In addition, the cost ranges are facility-specific somembers can compare the differences in cost between area facilities.
The cost range information is based directly on each Blue plans' claimspaid data over the past 12 months, providing consumers with access to moreaccurate and timely information about the cost associated with each of the 39procedures. The data will be updated every six months.
"In late 2006, our affiliated health plan in Ohio piloted a costtransparency program in conjunction with General Motors," said Braly. "Basedon the success and consumer satisfaction with that pilot, we are in theprocess of rolling out the program to WellPoint's affiliated health plansacross the country. We are pleased to be working with other Blue plans so thateven more members can have access to clear, concise health cost information inmajor cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis/St. Paul,Seattle, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Atlanta and Cincinnati, putting us on the roadto a national solution for consumers."
This partnership is part of a transparency strategy that enablesWellPoint's affiliated health plans and other Blue plans to build on theircollaborative work with physicians and facilities to provide members withmeaningful health care cost data. In turn, members can make more informedchoices about their health and health care spending.
About WellPoint, Inc.:
WellPoint, Inc. is the largest health benefits company in terms of medicalmembership in the United States. WellPoint is an independent licensee of theBlue Cross and Blue Shield Association and serves its members as the BlueCross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee forColorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as theBlue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan andsurrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licenseein selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the northernVirginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), Wisconsin; and through UniCare.Additional information about WellPoint is available at www.wellpoint.com.
About Highmark Inc.
As one of the leading health insurers in Pennsylvania, Highmark Inc.'smission is to provide access to affordable, quality health care enablingindividuals to live longer, healthier lives. Based in Pittsburgh, Highmarkserves 4.6 million people through the company's health care benefits business.Highmark contributes millions of dollars to help keep quality health careprograms affordable and to support community-based programs that work toimprove people's health. Highmark exerts an enormous economic impactthroughout Pennsylvania. A recent study states that Highmark's positive impactexceeded $2.5 billion. The company provides the resources to give its membersa greater hand in their health.
Highmark Inc. is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue ShieldAssociation, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.For more information, visit www.highmark.com.
About Premera Blue Cross
Our mission is to provide peace of mind to our members about theirhealth-care coverage. We provide health care coverage and related services tomore than 1.5 million people. Premera Blue Cross has operated in Washingtonsince 1933. Premera Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue CrossBlue Shield Association. Premera Blue Cross is a member of a family ofcompanies based in Mountlake Terrace, Washington, that provide health, life,vision, dental, and long-term care insurance, and other related services. Formore information, please visit www.premera.com.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, with headquarters in the St. Paulsuburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota's first health plan andcontinues to carry out its charter mission today: to promote a wider, moreeconomical and timely availability of health services for the people ofMinnesota. A nonprofit, taxable organization, Blue Cross is the largest healthplan based in Minnesota, covering 2.9 million members in Minnesota andnationally through its health plans or plans administered by its affiliatedcompanies. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licenseeof the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago. Go towww.bluecrossmn.com to learn more about Blue Cross and Blue Shield ofMinnesota.
About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit organization, provides andadministers health benefits to 4.7 million members residing in Michigan inaddition to members of Michigan-headquartered groups who reside outside thestate. The company offers a broad variety of plans including: Traditional BlueCross Blue Shield; Blue Preferred, Community Blue and Healthy Blue IncentivesPPOs; Blue Care Network HMO; BCN Healthy Blue Living; Flexible Blue planscompatible with health savings accounts; Medicare Advantage; Part DPrescription Drug plans, and MyBlue products in the under-age-65 individualmarket. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofitcorporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue ShieldAssociation. For more company information, visit www.bcbsm.com.
SOURCE WellPoint, Inc.