Highmark Blue Shield Program Rewards Members for Enhancing their 'Healthstyle'

New Lifestyle Returns Outcomes is latest in an expanding line of wellness


Oct 31, 2007, 01:00 ET from Highmark Blue Shield

    CAMP HILL, Pa., Oct. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Much of today's chronic disease
 and disability is directly linked to lifestyle. In fact, half of the two
 million premature deaths that occur each year can be linked to modifiable
 behaviors. Unhealthy lifestyles -- smoking, poor nutrition, and lack of
 exercise -- are a primary reason for rising health care costs, absenteeism
 and lost productivity in the workplace.
     As companies across the country look for ways to control ever-rising
 health care costs among their employees and help them get and stay
 healthier, many are turning to company-sponsored employee wellness
 programs. In fact, research shows that effective employee health management
 significantly decreases health risks and its associated costs. Solutions to
 the rising costs of health care are clear and simple -- keep employees who
 are low to moderate risk from progressing to high risk status, by providing
 effective, evidence- based interventions. Return on Investment (ROI)
 studies indicate a potential ROI of $2 to $5 in health care costs for every
 dollar spent.
     Lifestyle Returns Outcomes, Highmark Blue Shield's latest
 consumer-driven program, is just one more way Highmark is helping members
 live longer, healthier lives. This program enhances Highmark's continued
 commitment to wellness and its consumerism strategy. Consumerism is the
 demand for information that helps members take more responsibility and make
 more educated health care decisions.
     Highmark's original Lifestyle Returns program was created in 2005, and
 has now developed the Lifestyle Returns Outcomes Program. Members earn
 points toward employer-set rewards by participating in the program,
 reaching defined progress, and achieving target health goals.
     "Employers and employees are taking a more active role in health care,"
 said Robert Muscalus, DO, medical director at Highmark Blue Shield.
 "Highmark Blue Shield is taking a multi-faceted approach, built around
 incentives, to help our members make the right lifestyle choices and get
 the right medical care."
     Lifestyle Returns Outcomes specifics
     The program begins with an online pledge at the Highmark member Web
 site. Employees promise to be more involved in their health by taking a
 comprehensive self-health evaluation. They then complete a personal online
 health profile, and based on the results, will generate an individual
 Wellness Profile Report for better health. Recommendations may include
 participating in lifestyle improvement programs through worksite health
 promotion classes, online programs, or wellness programs offered through
 Highmark's community network at local YMCAs and hospitals.
     In addition to the pledge and profile, the program encourages members
 to receive preventive exams applicable to their age and gender and
 participate in activities. It also encourages members to receive worksite
 health screenings for the following key health status measures: LDL
 cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, Body Mass Index, tobacco use, and an
 HbA1C screen for self-identified diabetics. Each of these screenings has a
 target health goal based on medical standards and personal health data
 provided in the Wellness Profile. Participants who are unable to meet goals
 due to a medical condition, or if it is medically inadvisable to attempt to
 satisfy the goals, are offered reasonable alternatives to earn points.
     "The merits of preventive exams and health screenings are clear," said
 Muscalus. "Annual exams and health screenings can help members stay on top
 of their health, better manage illnesses, and even save lives through early
 detection of serious diseases. By making health care information available
 by phone, online, at the worksite and in the community, Highmark is
 striving to provide relevant information that will allow consumers to make
 more informed health care decisions."
     Employers provide rewards or incentives to promote employee
 participation and to complete the Lifestyle Returns program. Some employers
 offer a cash reward, a contribution toward employees' health savings
 account, a reduction in employee health coverage contributions, or offer
 higher level of benefits.
     "The Lifestyle Returns Outcomes Program is critical in the evolution of
 Highmark's Lifestyle Returns and consumerism programs," said Muscalus. "The
 screenings help to identify health issues and areas in need of improvement,
 making participants more involved and educated health care consumers.
 Highmark has more than 30 programs and initiatives available that can be
 tailored to help change lifestyles towards better health -- a reward that
 lasts a lifetime."
     About Highmark Blue Shield
     As one of the state's leading health insurers and with nearly 70 years
 of community involvement, Highmark Blue Shield helps members live longer,
 healthier lives by ensuring access to affordable, high quality health
 insurance and services. Highmark offers the widest range of products,
 access to all area hospitals and the most responsive customer service.
 Highmark exerts an enormous economic impact throughout Pennsylvania. A
 recent study states that Highmark's positive impact exceeded $2.5 billion.
 Employing more than 5,000 people in central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh
 Valley, Highmark provides the resources to give its members a greater hand
 in their health.
     Highmark Blue Shield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and
 Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue
 Shield Plans. For more information about Highmark Blue Shield, visit

SOURCE Highmark Blue Shield