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Anthem Blue Cross in California Provides More Members With Access to Comprehensive Transparency Tool
Date:6/3/2009

Care Comparison Tool Gives Anthem Members Complete Picture of Costs Associated with Medical Procedures

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif., June 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Anthem Blue Cross announced today that its industry-leading transparency initiative will be available to members in the following counties in the state: Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Kern, Sacramento/Placer and Yolo counties, San Diego, Imperial County, Orange County, San Joaquin/Valley, North Coast/North state, South Bay/South Coast, San Bernardino and Riverside.

These 7.3 million new members join about 1 million members in Los Angeles and the Bay Area in having access, since the program was launched in 2008. Anthem Care Comparison is an online tool that provides information about costs of nearly 40 specific medical procedures performed at local area hospitals, outpatient surgery centers and free-standing radiology facilities. Members can also find cost and quality information on more than 160 inpatient procedures. Currently, about 15.3 million members nationwide can go online to visit the transparency tool.

"No other transparency tool in the California market today provides the depth of information on the total costs of procedures as Anthem Care Comparison," said Leslie A. Margolin, president of Anthem Blue Cross. "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 and including physician costs. These medical care cost estimates 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, ambulatory surgery centers and/or free standing imaging centers, and get information on how frequently facilities perform each procedure. All of these factors combined can assist the member in carefully assessing the care they seek.

"Ultimately, we want Anthem Care Comparison to create well-informed consumers of health care," said Dr. Kurt Tamaru, M.D., an Anthem Medical Director. "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 primary feature of the company's 360 degree Health(R) program, one of the most robust benefits programs in the health benefits industry to comprehensively address preventive care, health improvement and care coordination. It provides health information 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.

Anthem's parent company is taking the Care Comparison tool to unaffiliated Blue Plan members nationwide. Last December, it announced plans to collaboratively partner with four Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield plans across the country to provide access to this consumer-friendly health care cost information. Through similar partnerships, the company is heading toward establishing the Care Comparison tool as a national Blue standard.

Members in California also have access to the Zagat Health Survey tool, an online survey tool that will allow consumers to share their physician experiences with others throughout the state.

About Anthem Blue Cross

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.

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
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