Anthem Blue Cross Introduces Industry's Most Comprehensive Transparency Initiative to California

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 General News
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WOODLAND HILLS, Calif., May 19 Anthem Blue Cross inCalifornia announced today the expansion of its industry-leading transparencyinitiative into California. Now, approximately 1.8 million of Anthem BlueCross members in 6 California counties -- Los Angeles, Alameda, Contra Costa,San Mateo, San Francisco, and Santa Clara, have access to Anthem's CareComparison, an online tool that provides total estimated costs associated withall aspects of nearly 40 specific medical procedures performed at local areahospitals.

In total, the Anthem Care Comparison tool is also expanding today to threeother Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield regions giving close to 8 millionAnthem members access to the industry's most complete transparency toolavailable. Currently, 2 million plus members in Wisconsin, Ohio, Kentucky andIndiana have access to the tool.

"No other transparency tool in the market today provides the depth ofinformation on the total costs of procedures as Anthem's Care Comparison,"said Steve Melody, vice president, health care services of Anthem Blue Crossin California. "Through this tool, our members have access to the costsassociated with all aspects of a specific medical procedure -- not just thecost of the procedure itself, but also the costs of the entire spectrum ofcare, from lab tests to recovery room charges. These facility-specific medicalcare cost estimates will help our members better understand the overall coststhey are likely to incur before a medical service is provided."

In addition, the cost information is facility specific, so members cancompare the differences in cost among hospitals, and get information on howfrequently facilities perform each procedure, which can assist the member inassessing the care they seek.

The data generated for the Anthem Care Comparison tool comes directly fromdata on claims that have been paid out over the past 12 months and is updatedquarterly. In addition, cost and quality information, including ratings basedon the number of services performed at each facility, is supplied by severalcompany-developed programs and partnerships with leading informationmanagement companies.

"Ultimately, we want Anthem's Care Comparison tool to create well-informedconsumers of health care," said Zeinab Dabbah, M.D., chief medical officer forAnthem Blue Cross in California. "Creating well-informed consumers, employers,physicians and hospital providers is an important element of transparency, andan essential step in transforming the consumers' role in their own healthcare."

Anthem Care Comparison is a feature of the company's 360 Degree Healthprogram, the most robust benefits program in the industry to comprehensivelyaddress preventive care, health improvement and care coordination. It provideshealth information and counsel collected from physicians, nurses, and otherhealth care professionals to Anthem Blue Cross members through a single pointof contact. It integrates all care management programs and tools into acentralized, consumer-friendly resource that assists members in navigating thehealth care system, using their health benefits and providing information tohelp them access comprehensive and appropriate care. 360 Degree Health helpsmembers access a wide range of services, including online wellness andlifestyle programs, discounts on health-related products, and alternativemedicine therapies. It also features 24-hour access to health careprofessionals for our members, who can provide them with health information.

Since the pilot for the Anthem Care Comparison program rolled out in theDayton, Ohio market earlier this year, more than 90 percent of memberssurveyed indicated the cost information provided by the tool is valuable,while 84 percent said it increases their ability to make good, informeddecisions regarding where to receive a medical service.

Anthem plans to continue expan

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