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Blue Cross of California Honored with Two BlueWorks(R) Awards

Take Charge of Your Health - A Self-Care Initiative and the Member Health

Index Receive High Honors

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., Feb. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Blue Cross of California's Self-Care Initiative and Member Health Index have been honored as 2007 BlueWorks(R) winners. A program of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, BlueWorks recognizes the innovative ways Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are working to increase the efficiency and consistency of care delivery nationwide. The Harvard Medical School Department of Health Care Policy evaluates submissions from participating Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies and makes recommendations for BlueWorks award winners.

Blue Cross of California's Take Charge of Your Health - Self-Care Initiative, is an enhancement of Blue Cross of California's original pilot effort aimed at reducing non-emergent emergency room (ER) visits. With the focus still on redirecting non-emergency care to a primary care setting, the Self-Care Initiative also includes a strong emphasis on changing behavior and self-care management through the use of education and one-on-one assistance. After its first year of deployment, Self-Care Initiative members observed a more than 50 percent decrease in ER usage among members enrolled in the program. The return on investment is significant in terms of decreased ER utilization, improved hospital relations and improvement in access to primary care.

"The more we can engage our members in their own health care, the healthier they will be and the more they can save in health care spending," said Leslie Margolin, President and CEO, Blue Cross of California. "The Self- Care Initiative has had such a positive impact on our members, and we are honored to be recognized by the Harvard Medical School for our efforts in reducing the number of non-emergency visits to emergency rooms."

According to Harvard Medical School Researchers, this newly-expanded program features more highly-targeted interventions for the patient without losing sight of structural, cultural or behavioral barriers to a relationship with the patient's primary care physician. Better coordinated care, cost savings and reduced pressures on local emergency rooms are but a few of the benefits of this program, now expanded in both breadth and depth."

The Member Health Index is a tracking system that incorporates nearly all of Blue Cross of California's 8.3 million members. The MHI combines more than 40 selected health care measures including screening and prevention, care management, clinical outcomes, and patient safety. Using a proprietary calculation developed by a multi-disciplinary team including quality improvement experts, healthcare economists and clinicians, the MHI tracks the health plans' progress toward improving members' health through education, care management and wellness programs.

"Combined with our State Health Index, we are able to track our progress in improving the lives of the people we serve," said Margolin. "But we are going beyond simply tracking our progress. We are holding ourselves accountable to decreasing the gap between current and target performance by 5 percent each year."

Based on the results, Blue Cross of California can help define opportunities to improve the health care experience of its members. Blue Cross of California will also work with community and state leaders to design programs that will help address health issues and, in turn, improve the health of millions, to track the company's progress in improving the lives of the people it serves and health in its communities.

"Improving the health performance of members by 5 percent year after year is a remarkable aspiration," said Scott P. Serota, BCBSA President and CEO. "Blue Cross of California is to be congratulated for designing and implementing a program that has in a short time proven its success and helped members improve their health care status."

The Harvard Medical School Department of Health Care Policy evaluates submissions from participating Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies on innovation, efficacy, robust design and the potential for program replication, and makes recommendations for BlueWorks award winners. Since 2004, Harvard Medical School's Department of Health Care Policy has recommended 44 Blue Cross and Blue Shield company programs as BlueWorks winners. Blue Cross of California has previously won nine BlueWorks awards: Care Counselor Program (2004), GenericSelect (2004), Moving Consumers out of the ER to Reduce Costs and Increase Efficiency (2006), Identification of Questionable Narcotic Drug Patterns (2005), Congestive Heart Failure Health Improvement Program (2005), Community Health: A Health Plan's Contribution (2006), Fraud and Abuse Training (2005), Sober Life Alternatives (2006), and Creative Solutions to Asthma Management.

About Blue Cross of California:

Blue Cross of California is a subsidiary of WellPoint, Inc., whose mission is to improve the lives of the people it serves and the health of its communities. It is the largest publicly traded commercial health benefits company in terms of membership in the United States, and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and serves its members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as Blue Cross Blue Shield in 10 New York City metropolitan counties and as Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), Wisconsin; and through UniCare. Additional information about Blue Cross of California is available at

SOURCE Blue Cross of California
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