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Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Introduces Transparency Initiative in Maine
Date:5/20/2008

Anthem's Care Comparison Tool Gives Members the Most Complete Picture of

Costs Associated with Medical Procedures

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine, May 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield (Anthem) announced today the expansion of its industry-leading transparency initiative into Maine. Anthem members in Maine now have access to Anthem 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.

"One of the best things we can do for our members is help them become more informed consumers of health care services so that they can make the right decisions when it comes to their health care," said Dan Corcoran, president, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine. "We're committed to providing more and better information about the cost of health care services and the quality of those services, and this tool is a significant step in that direction."

The Anthem Care Comparison tool helps members understand the typical costs associated with all aspects of a specific medical procedure -- not just the cost of the procedure itself, but the costs of the entire spectrum of care, from lab tests to recovery room charges. In addition, the cost information is facility-specific, so members can compare the differences in cost among hospitals. Anthem members can also get information on how frequently facilities perform each procedure, which can assist the member in assessing the care they seek.

Anthem's Care Comparison tool generates this information while also factoring in hospital, physician, and anesthesia costs to help provide a more accurate total cost analysis. "These facility-specific medical care cost estimates help consumers understand the overall costs they are likely to incur before a medical service is provided," Corcoran said.

The data generated for the Anthem Care Comparison tool comes directly from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield's paid claims data 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 the Anthem Care Comparison tool to create well-informed consumers of health care," said Jeff Holmstrom, D.O., medical director for Anthem in Maine. "Creating knowledgeable 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(R) 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 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, and 24-hour access to health care professionals who can provide health information.

In September 2006, Anthem unveiled the Anthem Care Comparison pilot in Dayton, Ohio, with partner General Motors, enabling thousands of Anthem members and GM employees in Dayton to participate in this transparency initiative. Since the rollout, Anthem has collected and analyzed member feedback to help enhance the effectiveness of the Anthem Care Comparison tool. More than 90 percent 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 have a medical service.

Anthem plans to continue expanding access to the Care Comparison tool to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans across the country. With the current expansion in Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut, nearly 8 million Anthem members now have access to the industry's most complete transparency tool.

About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name of Anthem Health Plans of Maine, Inc., and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. (R)ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Additional information about Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine is available at http://www.anthem.com .


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SOURCE Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine
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