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Health Care Service Corporation Finds Success With Innovative Program Targeting Obesity Epidemic
Date:12/15/2008

CHICAGO, Dec. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- As the debate begins to heat up about how best to improve the U.S. health care system over the next year, one of the nation's largest health insurers has an innovative program that can help its members today. Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), which operates the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, is completing its first full year with a weight management program that has proven successful in four key areas: decreasing in-patient hospital admissions, decreasing emergency room visits, reducing health care costs per member per month and increasing employee productivity.

"Weight problems have caused major health concerns for Americans," said Paul Handel, M.D., HCSC's chief medical officer. "This Lifestyle Management Program serves as a model of what can be done to help solve what's become a national health care crisis. It has already helped hundreds of our members by working with them individually to improve their health and lower their health care costs. It can do the same for many, many more."

The program is part of HCSC's Blue Care Connection, a collaborative care management system designed to encourage the pursuit of evidence-based prevention and intervention so members can improve their health and avoid unnecessary medical costs. The Lifestyle Management Program incorporates a multidisciplinary approach as well as health data tools to support participating members and their physicians. With these tools and unique approach, the program enables members to take responsibility for their health through weight management education and supportive intervention.

Alicia Sills is an example of a member who found extraordinary success with HCSC's Lifestyle Management Program. The 26-year-old enrolled after being denied life insurance because of her weight. After six months on the program, she lost 70 pounds.

"This program works better than any diet I've ever tried, and I've tried many," said Sills. "The personal attention, accountability and great ideas make all the difference in the world."

According to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 34 percent of adult Americans are obese. As a result, they are more likely to develop costly health complications such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Through a pilot Lifestyle Management Program, HCSC helped 50 percent of participants lose an average of 11.2 pounds and 2.3 Body Mass Index (BMI) points. Lifestyle Management benefits the member and other interested parties as well:

  • Members
    • Decreased health risks and complications due to obesity
    • Improved self management skills
    • Decreased expenses for routine, proactively managed health care
    • Enhanced potential for longevity, enabling the individual to be there for loved ones
    • Enhanced quality of life to be able to engage and participate in important activities
  • Employers
    • Improved management of health care expenses
    • Reduction in sick days
    • Increased communication with insurer
    • Increased satisfaction with insurer
  • Physicians
    • Reductions in serious, expensive procedures
    • Creation of a strategic partnership in managing the member's disease process
    • Improved communication with member and insurer

*The program is available to members enrolled through an employer group who has contracted with HCSC for services.

Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, is the largest customer-owned health insurer in the United States and the fourth largest health insurer in the country overall, with 12.4 million members in its Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The company is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. HCSC also has a rating of AA- (Very Strong) from Standard and Poor's, Aa3 (Excellent) from Moody's and A+ (Superior) from A.M. Best Company. For more information, visit www.HCSC.com.


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SOURCE Health Care Service Corporation
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