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Anthem Blue Cross Introduces Industry's Most Comprehensive Transparency Initiative to California
Date:5/19/2008

Anthem's Care Comparison Tool Gives Anthem Members in six California counties - Los Angeles, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara, the Most Complete Picture of Costs Associated with Medical

Procedures

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif., May 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Anthem Blue Cross in California announced today the expansion of its industry-leading transparency initiative into California. Now, approximately 1.8 million of Anthem Blue Cross members in 6 California counties -- Los Angeles, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, San Francisco, and Santa Clara, have access to Anthem's Care Comparison, an online tool that provides total estimated costs associated with all aspects of nearly 40 specific medical procedures performed at local area hospitals.

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

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

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

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

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

Anthem Care Comparison is a feature of the company's 360 Degree Health program, the most robust benefits program in the industry to comprehensively address preventive care, health improvement and care coordination. It provides health information and counsel collected from physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals to Anthem Blue Cross members through a single point of contact. It integrates all care management programs and tools into a centralized, consumer-friendly resource that assists members in navigating the health care system, using their health benefits and providing information to help them access comprehensive and appropriate care. 360 Degree Health helps members access a wide range of services, including online wellness and lifestyle programs, discounts on health-related products, and alternative medicine therapies. It also features 24-hour access to health care professionals for our members, who can provide them with health information.

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

Anthem plans to continue expanding the Care Comparison tool nationally, including throughout the entire state of California.

Anthem Blue Cross is the trade name of Blue Cross of California. Anthem Blue Cross and Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Association. (R) ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association.


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SOURCE Anthem Blue Cross in California
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