Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Expands Cost Disclosure Tool to Mid-Missouri

Care comparison gives Anthem members complete picture of costs associated with medical procedures

Oct 12, 2010, 12:10 ET from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri announced today the introduction of its industry-leading transparency initiative to Columbia and Jefferson City and surrounding counties.  Members in these areas now access Anthem Care Comparison, an online tool that provides information about costs of 59 specific medical procedures performed at local area hospitals, outpatient surgery centers and free-standing radiology facilities.  The procedures now include office visit and chiropractic visit costs.  

"We are pleased that our members in mid-Missouri have access to this sophisticated tool," said Ruth Meyer Hollenback, vice president, Provider Engagement and Contracting, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri. "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. These medical care cost estimates will 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, which can assist the member in assessing the care they seek.

With the expansion of the online resource, individual and group members in mid-Missouri join 24 million Anthem and other Blue Cross and Blue Shield members nationwide, including approximately 60,000 in the 16 counties added in Missouri: Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Camden, Chariton, Cole, Cooper, Gasconade, Howard, Maries, Miller, Moniteau, Montgomery, Morgan, Osage and Randolph.

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 feedback from members throughout the nation to help enhance the effectiveness of Anthem's 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. 

"Quality information is also included so that members can compare hospital expertise and experience," said Wayne Meyer, M.D., Anthem's medical director. "Members can access information regarding the number of patients treated, complication rates, mortality rates and average length of stay.  This quality information is available across the country."

Anthem Care Comparison is a primary feature of the company's 360 Degree Health® program, one of the most robust benefits programs in our 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 our 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. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) selected Care Comparison as its platform for a national transparency solution for all Blue Plans, scheduled to be implemented by 2011.

BCBSA will use the treatment categories and cost methodology of Care Comparison as the core component for its consumer-facing online cost estimation tool. This arrangement enables BCBSA, Anthem's parent company and its affiliated health plans, and other Blue plans to continue to work with physicians and facilities to provide members with meaningful health care cost data. In turn, members will be able to make more informed choices about their health and health care spending. Through these partnerships, members in any of the participating health plans will have access to the information from all the states involved with the program.

About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri

In Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area) Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name for RightCHOICE® Managed Care, Inc. (RIT), Healthy Alliance® Life Insurance Company (HALIC), and HMO Missouri, Inc. RIT and certain affiliates administer non-HMO benefits underwritten by HALIC and HMO benefits underwritten by HMO Missouri, Inc. RIT and certain affiliates only provide administrative services for self-funded plans and do not underwrite benefits. Independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. ®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 Blue Shield Association. Additional information about Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri is available at

SOURCE Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri