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Monday, December 6, 2010

A day in the Life of a BCBSM ID card - Part Two: Eye Doctor Visit

Where is the Blues ID card traveling next? Watch part two of this four part series — Eye Doctor Visit.
In part two of this series, the Blues ID card stops at the eye doctor for an annual check- up. They say that eyes are the windows to the soul. But eyes are also the windows to health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure. Your eye doctor is sometimes the first person to identify early warning signs of health issues, while treating and helping you manage eye disorders such as glaucoma and cataracts. Keeping up with regular eye examinations can help you maintain total body health.

The Blues ID card is always on the move providing access to discounts and special offers on everything from groceries to fitness gear, and access to quality medical, dental, vision and prescription drug coverage. Stay tuned for more Blues ID card adventures.

For information about Blue Vision visit

Special thanks to the doctors and staff of the Gaylord Eye Care Center for participating in the filming of this video.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Congratulations to Steve Anderson, winner of The Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II!

“And the winner is…Steve Anderson!”

During last week’s nationally-televised America’s Thanksgiving Parade, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s president and CEO Daniel J. Loepp announced this year’s winner of The Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II. Steve Anderson beat out fellow contestants Tia Finney, Greg Czar, Calvin Poellnitz, Mary Beth Klawender and Sandy Ray to take the top spot.

All of the Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition contestants rode on BCBSM’s new “Get Fit” float during the holiday parade.

With the help of his BCBSM health coach, Grace “Dietician” Arriola-Derocha, Steve rallied to lose 55 pounds, totaling 21 percent of his original body weight.

“I cut out fast food, which I used to have all of the time. And now I eat healthier and work out,” said Steve. “I feel great and hopefully I’ll continue this for the rest of my life.”

We applaud Steve, Tia, Greg, Calvin, Mary Beth and Sandy for their hard work and dedication throughout the contest. In 11 weeks the contestants lost a grand total of 200 pounds.

We hope that they take what they’ve learned from their Blue Cross health coaches and continue to maintain their new, healthier lifestyles. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Detroit’s Biggest Loser winner to be announced

 Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II winner will be announced at 9 a.m. on WDIV during America’s Thanksgiving Parade live broadcast

Start your Thanksgiving Day by tuning in to WDIV-TV at 9 a.m. to see the official announcement of the Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II winner. Who will it be: Sandy Ray, Greg Czar, Tia Finney, Steve Anderson, Calvin Poellnitz or Mary Beth Klawender? Tune in to find out!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Michigan Health Insurance Payers Collaborate in National Program to Improve Health Care

It’s really happening.  Every private, Michigan-based health insurer in Michigan, plus an additional 11 Medicaid managed care health plans, is collaborating in a project to improve patient health, control cost of care, and enhance the patient health care experience.

Michigan is one of eight states approved to participate in a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) demonstration project that will evaluate how to pay health professionals who improve patient care through a patient-centered medical home. Of the approximately 1,200 physicians practices expected to participate in this project nationally, approximately 480 will be in Michigan.

Michigan’s project is groundbreaking, because all health insurers have agreed to use one medical home model – the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Physician Group Incentive Program patient-centered medical home model– as the standard, rather than each health plan designing its own model.

By aligning under one medical home model, and one method of payment, all participants in the program will be able to review and share data to develop the best practices for health care improvement.

The Michigan initiative will focus on ways to address the biggest health challenges in the state – managing chronic diseases, such as diabetes and asthma, and coordinating health care across the spectrum of doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, nursing homes, etc.

“We believe this project will further strengthen the care improvements that we’re already seeing in the physician practices that participate in the Blue Cross PCMH program,” says David Share, MD, MPH, executive medical director for quality programs, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.  “We are proud to partner with physicians and health plans across Michigan in this important initiative.”

The project is one of the first to launch through the new CMS Innovation Center, a research center that will test new models for improving health care while lowering costs.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A day in the life of a Blues ID card

Part One: Doctor visit

You may think that your Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network ID card just sits in your purse or wallet waiting for the next time you go to the doctor or pharmacy. But did you know that those little Blues cards are actually pretty busy as they play an important role in leading Michigan to a healthier future?

Every Blues ID card is essential in helping people maintain their total body health and comes with the convenience of having a single card for medical, dental and vision services, depending on your plan. It also saves you money and helps you achieve your personal wellness goals.

Having a Blues ID card means...
  • You have health coverage that helps you stay well and takes care of you when you’re sick.
  • Your card is recognized nationwide when you travel because it is backed by one of the most trusted health care symbols in the country — the Blue Cross® and Blue Shield®.
  • You have access to great Blues advantages with discounts and special offers on everything from groceries to fitness gear with the support of our Healthy Blue XtrasSM and Blue365® programs.

To see just how busy a Blues ID card can be, check out Part One: Doctor visit of this four part series, and stay tuned for more Blues ID card adventures.

Special thanks to the doctors and staff of Gaylord Family Practice for participating in the filming of this video.

Monday, November 1, 2010

BCBSM editorial in Crain's Detroit Business

The following is an editorial from Andrew Hetzel, vice president of corporate communications at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan that first-appeared in Crain's Detroit Business on Oct. 31, 2010:

Allow the Blues to work out the best contract

On Oct. 18, the U.S. government sued Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for delivering the lowest possible health care prices to our customers through the reimbursement contracts we negotiate with Michigan hospitals.

Especially now, as the government puts intense political pressure on private insurers to control premiums, it makes no sense for it to undermine the ability of insurers to negotiate the most favorable pricing we can possibly achieve.

Health care costs are straining the resources of every business and family in Michigan. BCBSM covers about 4 million Michiganders and is obligated by a 30-year-old state law to provide statewide access to health care at a reasonable cost.

None of our competitors share the Blues' statutory mission. To fulfill it, BCBSM prioritizes having contracts in place with all Michigan acute care hospitals, while ensuring that these contracts deliver exceptional value to our customers in the form of the deepest possible volume discount savings.

BCBSM's negotiated volume discounts across all hospitals, physicians and pharmacies in our network saved our customers nearly $13 billion in 2009 alone. Our payout that year approached $20 billion. The impact of that level of annual savings on the affordability of health care in Michigan cannot be overstated.

The government alleges that BCBSM is quashing competition by delivering low-price guarantees in our contracts. But competition is thriving in Michigan's health insurance market. BCBSM membership has declined over the past two years, while membership in competing HMOs has risen. There is price and service competition in Michigan. Some HMOs have aggressively acquired competitors to expand their service areas and compete with BCBSM. BCBSM, while large, has less than 50 percent market share in the majority of Michigan counties.

A tenet of American commerce is that large customer volume drives low prices. If you shop at a mega retailer — or if you are an American taxpayer served by the use of "most favored nation" clauses in U.S. government contracts — you benefit from low prices driven by volume discounts.

The same should hold true for health care. Large-volume payers such as BCBSM should have the ability to negotiate fair and reasonable reimbursement arrangements with hospitals that deliver the best possible price to our customers. These arrangements help the hospitals — which enter into them willingly — with revenue flow and a reasonable margin above their cost. They also provide our customers what they demand — low prices that keep health care more affordable.

View the original article:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Biggest Loser contestants get into the “spirit” of Halloween with some healthy fall recipes

Halloween is full of tricks and treats – which can be really scary when you’re trying to lose weight. 

But the Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II contestants are prepared. With the help of their BCBSM health coaches, they have learned that you can still get into the spirit of Halloween and stay healthy.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pre-existing conditions hinder people’s ability to find affordable coverage in Michigan

During an Oct. 20 debate between U.S. Representative John Dingell and his opponent Dr. Rob Steele, Dr. Steele made a comment that “We have no pre-existing conditions in Michigan; we have Blue Cross Blue Shield.”

It is true that Blue Cross covers people with pre-existing conditions and does not reject them for coverage. This has been at the center of our unique nonprofit mission for decades.

The problem in Michigan is that Blue Cross's mission is unique. No other insurer -- until national reform takes full affect in 2014 -- covers the sick. This leaves Michigan consumers with pre-existing conditions with only one option. And this is where Dr. Steele's comment needs clarification.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Statewide collaboration reduces complications from surgeries; Improves quality

A collaboration among 16 Michigan hospitals has successfully reduced complications following surgery by 10 percent, during a period where there was no reduction in complications nationally.  The results are published in the October 18 issue of “Archives of Surgery.”

In the Michigan Surgical Quality Collaborative, one of nine statewide initiatives funded and founded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, participants agree to pool data and share information about what keeps patients safe.   Physicians discuss their findings, and develop best practices that lead to better outcomes and safer practices.

The “pay for participation” approach of these initiatives fosters cooperation, rather than competition.  Blue Cross pays hospitals for their costs to collect patient data, and for the participants’ time to meet and share information.  Blue Cross also pays a third-party coordinating center – in this case, University of Michigan Health System -- to track and analyze the data.  Individual hospital results are not shared with Blue Cross, to maintain a non-competitive atmosphere.

The results are noteworthy.  For example, this initiative has reduced the number of patients who develop pneumonia from being on a ventilator following surgery.  That reduction alone could save $13 million each year.  Other successes include reductions in blood infections, septic shock, prolonged ventilator use and cardiac arrest.

Darrell A. Campbell Jr., M.D., chief medical officer at the University of Michigan Health System, leads the Michigan Surgical Quality Collaborative and believes the approach is something that should be replicated nationally. 

“If this system was adopted nationally, not just in Michigan, I think you would find a greatly accelerated pace of surgical quality improvement,” Campbell says.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Who will you inspire to start their journey towards wellness and weight loss? This is Eric’s story of how he was able to walk his way to better health.

This is the final post in a series telling the amazing stories of individuals who committed to adopting healthier lifestyles. Jodi Davis inspired Jon Stanton to change his life. Then Jon inspired Rose Borst and Eric Stanton to do the same. They have motivated each other and together they have begun a walking movement.

Motivated. Committed. Strong. Inspired. These words describe Eric Stanton, a man who lost more than 50 pounds with pure dedication and the support of his son.

Eric took his first step toward a healthier lifestyle after his son, Jon Stanton, lost more than 230 pounds by walking. After seeing the positive health effects of his son’s weight-loss, Eric was ready to take action to manage his own health.  

He started his weight-loss journey by walking on a daily basis and changing his eating habits.  Eric made a few simple changes and so far he has lost 50 pounds. He is proud be working toward his weight loss goal and taking control of his health.

Eric knows anything is possible and he’s stepping up to the challenge with his son and their friend Rose. Together they have achieved healthier lifestyles and you can do it too. Today’s a new beginning – the start of a new, healthier you. And who knows you might just inspire someone else to do the same.

So, who will you inspire? Join our walking movement. Your success story could change someone’s life.

If you would like to learn more about how walking can work for you, visit

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition 2009 winner offers advice to current contestants

It’s week 7 of Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II and the contestants are starting to see results, but they are also feeling the psychological effects of the competition. Last year’s winner, Marilyn Kluka, knows all too well about the emotional rollercoaster they’re on right now.

Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition 2009 winner, Marilyn Kluka, talks about her weight-loss journey with WDIV reporter Shawn Ley.

Yesterday, Marilyn met with the contestants to talk about the triumphs and struggles of her weight-loss journey on WDIV’s 5 p.m. news broadcast. She talked about finding a balance between eating healthy but occasionally enjoying her favorite (but not so healthy) foods.

“Last weekend I had a wedding to go to. I knew I was going to have a glass of wine and a piece of cake. But I also knew that the next day I was going to head to the gym,” she said.

Michelle Fullerton, Blue Cross director of Wellness & Care Management, is interviewed by WDIV reporter Shawn Ley.

Marilyn emphasized the importance of staying on track and using the tools and advice provided to them by their Blue Cross health coaches. She also encouraged the contestants to keep in touch with their coach – and each other – after the competition ends.

“This is more than an 11-week weight-loss contest, it’s a lifestyle change,” she said.

Who will you inspire? This is Rose’s story.

For Rose Borst, deciding to lose weight was an easy decision. After back surgery and double-knee replacement she decided that her weight was no longer going to slow her down. This is the third video in a series telling the amazing stories of four individuals who decided that they were ready to lose weight and adopt healthier lifestyles.

At 352 pounds Rose Borst slipped and fell on a sheet of ice in her driveway. Her ankle was broken. But worst of all, she could not physically get herself up off the ground.

At that point, Rose knew that it was time for her to make a serious lifestyle change.

She started eating healthy and quickly noticed results when she stepped on the scale. She read Jodi and Jon’s blogs and discovered the health benefits of walking. After recovering from her surgeries she began to add walking to her daily regimen.

And to this date Rose has lost and kept off 130 pounds.

Rose is an everyday woman with an amazing story. She heard about Jodi and Jon and realized that if they could lose the weight, she could too. No fancy diet. No surgery. All it takes is that first step.

Now Jon’s father has become part of the “movement”. His story is the final video in the series…for now. Stay tuned to see the inspirational story of Eric Stanton.

Who will inspire you? Your success story could change someone’s life.

If you would like to share your inspirational story and find out more about how walking can work for you, visit

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Who will you inspire? This is Jon’s story.

This is the second post in a series of four telling the amazing stories of individuals who committed to adopting healthier lifestyles. Jodi Davis inspired Jon Stanton to change his life. Then Jon inspired Rose Borst and Eric Stanton to do the same. They have kept each other motivated and together they have begun a walking movement.

Jon weighed 430 pounds in 2007.

At 31, Jon had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and symptoms of congestive heart failure. When his doctor diagnosed him with Type 2 diabetes, Jon made the commitment to completely change his lifestyle habits.

Around that time, Jon received his Living Healthy magazine from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Jodi Davis, walking and healthy habits advocate for the Blues, happened to be on the cover that issue. Jon began reading Jodi’s blog on and corresponding with her regularly. They are now close friends and work together to inspire Michiganders with similar experiences to take the personal accountability to improve their health.

Jon has lost 230 pounds. He didn’t have surgery. He didn’t diet. He walks or bikes on a daily basis and changed the way he ate.  Jon is on a mission to help create a healthier Michigan.

Jon and Jodi’s stories are inspiring because they’re achievable. They literally improved their health by taking one step at a time. If they can do it, you can do it!

So, who will you inspire? Join our walking movement. Your success story could change someone’s life.

Questions or comments for Jon? He blogs every Tuesday on

Monday, October 11, 2010

Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II contestants stay motivated to reach weight-loss goals

Losing weight is more than a physical challenge, it’s a psychological battle that can take a demanding toll on the mind and spirit. Staying motivated can be one of the most difficult aspects of losing weight.

Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II contestants know the psychological battle with weight loss all too well. For the past seven weeks each has worked hard to stay motivated, but the journey has not always been easy.

The Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II is a local version of NBC’s nationally-televised Biggest Loser. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan health coaches provide counseling to each contestant as part of our mission to promote a healthier Michigan. The competition is in its second year of motivating local residents to lose weight and achieve a healthier lifestyle.

The contestants of this year’s competition include:

· Steve Anderson, Troy

· Tia Finney, West Bloomfield

· Sandra Ray, Taylor

· Calvin Poellnitz, Inkster

· Mary Beth Klawender, Livonia

· Greg Czar, Shelby Township

You can follow the inspiring stories of each contestant on their blogs found here:, and help them stay motivated by commenting on the site and sharing links with your friends. You can also see how they continue to support one another as they comment on each others’ posts.

You can also tune in to WDIV (Local 4) to learn how Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan health coaches provide emotional support to the contestants, and see how last year’s Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition winner, Marilyn Kluka continues her commitment to a healthy lifestyle almost one year later.

Marilyn lost more than 70 pounds since her weight-loss journey began with last year’s Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition.

The winner of this year’s competition will receive prizes, including a spot as the honorary Grand Marshall of America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Who will you inspire? This is Jodi’s story.

Jodi Davis started a very healthy trend. She began living a healthier lifestyle and inspired Jon Stanton, Rose Borst, and Eric Stanton to do the same. This is the first post in a series of four that shows how one person’s lifestyle change can encourage others to make changes they never thought they could.

“One bite tastes the same as twenty,” is one piece of advice that's  blogger Jodi Davis has learned and shared with others over the years. Jodi was obese for nearly 25 years and one day, she realized she had to lose weight in order to live her life to the fullest.

Jodi is a mother of three from West Michigan who took personal responsibility for her health by beginning a daily walking regimen that brought her to a 162 pound weight loss in about 16 months. Since the weight loss, she has become Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s walking and healthy living advocate.

When Jodi is out at events—talking with the public and sharing her story—people have a hard time believing that Jodi lost the weight all on her own, without the help of diet pills or an expensive gym membership. It may sound too good to be true, but Jodi began eating the right foods and walking daily and the weight began to fall off.

Jodi’s blog on has garnered a great deal of followers who are inspired every week by Jodi’s stories and ideas. Who did Jodi Davis inspire to lose over 200 pounds? Stay tuned tomorrow for Jon Stanton’s story.

So, who will you inspire? Join our walking movement. Your success story could change someone’s life.

Questions or comments for Jodi? Send them to

Friday, October 8, 2010

BCBSM is working hard to help Michigan small businesses grow

The key to Michigan’s economic recovery is the growth of small businesses.

That’s why we are developing more affordable plans such as Simply BlueSM. This PPO plan is designed like no other and it’s the most competitively priced product that we’ve introduced in years.

Designed to give employers flexibility, Simply Blue has several deductible and copayment plan options. It can also be paired with a health reimbursement arrangement or health savings account. Employers can complete their employee benefit package with dental, vision and prescription drug plans.

In addition to the introduction of Simply Blue, our product portfolio will also include PPO and HMO wellness-based and consumer-directed health plans. These new plans will be available to small business owners on Jan. 1, 2011.

Our goal is to help small businesses attract and retain top talent by offering quality health care coverage to their employees at a cost that won’t break their budget. It’s that simple.

Now that’s how a small business grows.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New BCBSM website emphasizes the importance of total body health

Many people don’t know that regular dental and vision check ups can help catch early warning signs of health problems they may not even know they have. It takes more than just basic medical care to maintain overall health.

Our new website, Healthy from Head to Toe, provides a number of interesting insights about how combining medical, dental and vision care can make you feel better and lower your medical expenses.

If you’re a business owner, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan offers a combination of medical, dental and vision plans that can help your employees maintain better overall health, help reduce your health care costs and increase workplace productivity. And you can’t beat the convenience of having one ID card for medical, dental and vision services?

Visit to learn more.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Programs and discounts with Michigan doctors and hospitals managing costs, improving quality of health care

Discounts that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan negotiates with health care providers and collaborations with physicians and hospitals have realized more than $13 billion in savings, according to the 2010 Annual Report of Program Value (PDF), released Friday.

We’ve gone on record saying that one of our biggest concerns with health care reform is a lack of measures to contain costs. That concern is also echoed by many business owners, many of whom will have to begin offering insurance to employees in the coming years.

That’s why we feel it’s important to spotlight the important work taking place to lower costs and improve health care quality right here in Michigan.

The report outlines savings on hospital, professional, pharmacy and dental rates for members that total $12.9 billion.

In addition, the Blues work with more than 8,100 physicians and more than 40 hospitals across the state on projects that address factors that drive up costs and diminish the quality of health care. A few examples:

  • Doctors participating in our Physician Group Incentive Program saved nearly $9.5 million in 2009 through more judicious use of high- and low-tech radiology services.
  • An initiative to increase use of generic drugs helped save $700 million over seven years.
  • A collaborative initiative targeting angioplasty in hospitals saves an estimated $15.2 million annually and has reduced both hospital deaths and post-procedure blood transfusions by nearly a third.
  • A cardiac surgery initiative has decreased incidence rates of post-surgical prolonged ventilation, saving $25,000 per case.
  • And our Patient-Centered Medical Home program, at 1,800 participating physicians, is the largest in the nation and is beginning to see positive effects in just its second full year. Preliminary data have shown that PCMH practices have lower rates for adult and pediatric inpatient admissions, radiology utilization and ER visits than non-PCMH practices. Comprehensive data on first-year results of the program are expected later this year.

Blue Cross is proud of these accomplishments, of course because they are saving valuable health care dollars, but more importantly, because they are creating a safer, higher quality atmosphere for health care in Michigan for everyone.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Body & Soul BLUE Challenge entrants mark the midpoint with an outpouring of spirit

Only the serious showed up at Fuller Park in Grand Rapids on our recent squishy Sept. 11.

But, they were enough.

The hardy band of cold, damp souls I met at the park was there to mark the midpoint of this year’s Body & Soul BLUE Challenge, a three-month wellness competition between 11 African-American faith communities around the city. The Blues are co-sponsors of the Challenge along with the American Cancer Society.

Participants had free massages awaiting them in the park, a Zumba® warm-up, rows of health and fitness vendors, a group walk to the Fulton Street Farmers Market and discount tokens for the goods they’d find there.

That persistent rain had no chance of causing a wash-out.

There was too much heart there for that to happen.

And, if you’re unsure about that, just check out this video from that day:

Or consider that participants in last year’s Challenge, which was won by Ms. Moody, who you’ll meet in the video, and her husband Rev. Nathaniel’s church, logged a whopping 167,000 miles. About 49,000 of those miles were from members of Moody’s Brown Hutcherson Ministries alone.

Considering the date, an observer couldn’t help but think a lot about transformation as he walked around the park. I asked everyone I spoke to that day whether they were seeing lives being changed and every one of them came back with an emphatic yes.

Holding such an event in the African-American community makes a certain amount of sense. It’s true that many African- Americans are at high risk for many serious and often fatal diseases, some of it lifestyle-driven, some of it not.

But, I quickly found out that there was much more at work here.

The bulk of the conversation that came back to me that day was about how taking care of the body is a spiritual act in itself. Others talked about having a responsibility to their spiritual selves to be as fit as they can be. “Bringing together the health and well-being of whole communities,” BCBSM’s Cle Jackson called it.

This year’s Body & Soul Challenge will end Oct. 2 at the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute Rhythm Run at Martin Luther King Park in Grand Rapids.

But, in a more important sense, Body & Soul won’t end that day … or on any other. It can’t, really.

People were changed through their participation, this year and last.


I saw fuller lives at Fuller Park. It’s tough to go back once you’ve been there.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lack of cost containment, onerous tax reporting among biz concerns over health care reform

What can Michigan businesses expect as federal health care reform gains momentum?

That was the big question being asked during a Health Care Reform: Defined event and panel discussion Tuesday at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

The answer, of course, depends upon many factors, including the shape of yet-to-be-written regulations and how the Nov. 2 election shakes out in both Washington, D.C. and Lansing. But the consensus was that businesses will likely need help both from tax and employee-benefit advisors as well as from statewide insurance exchanges set to be established in 2014.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Health reform at 6 months: No more exclusions or waiting periods for children with pre-existing health conditions

National health reform turns six months old on Sept. 23, when a variety of new rules and regulations take effect. In this weeklong series, we highlight how benefits will change for consumers in the near term. You can also find videos, news alerts, RSS feeds and other information at our health reform website.

Those of you who are parents know that there are few things worse than having a sick child, especially when their condition requires serious and oftentimes costly medical attention.

The good news for parents is that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will ban the practices of pre-existing condition exclusions and waiting periods for children under the age of 19.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Health reform at 6 months: Protecting your choice of doctor and access to emergency services

National health reform turns six months old on Sept. 23, when a variety of new rules and regulations take effect. In this weeklong series, we highlight how benefits will change for consumers in the near term. You can also find videos, news alerts, RSS feeds and other information at our health reform website.

Much was made during the reform debate about protecting peoples’ rights to choose their own doctor and have access to emergency services without worrying about higher costs if they go to an out-of-network emergency room. Within a part of the legislation, called “The Patient’s Bill of Rights,” there are requirements around these two issues. So what does that mean to you?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Health reform at 6 months: The sun sets on lifetime dollar limits for care

National health reform turns six months old on Sept. 23, when a variety of new rules and regulations take effect. In this weeklong series, we highlight how benefits will change for consumers in the near term. You can also find videos, news alerts, RSS feeds and other information at our health reform website.

Lifetime dollar limits on care will go the way of the 8-track tape, pinball machine and floppy disk when the federal health care reform law hits the six-month mark.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act bans lifetime dollar limits for what it deems “essential health benefits” effective Sept. 23. The prohibition applies to all health plans, new or grandfathered, for plan years that begin on or after that date.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Health reform at 6 months: Free checkups and tetanus shots, anyone?

National health reform turns six months old on Sept. 23, when a variety of new rules and regulations take effect. In this weeklong series, we highlight how benefits will change for consumers in the near term. You can also find videos, news alerts, RSS feeds and other information at our health reform website.

Health insurers will be required to cover a host of preventive services and immunizations with no cost sharing for members under a requirement of national health reform soon to take effect. Cost sharing is when health plans – or employers offering health plans – require members to cover some costs associated with their coverage, such as co-payments for doctors’ office visits or for medications.

Health reform at 6 months: Eligibility for dependent coverage extends to age 26

With health care reform approaching the key six-month milestone, we’re reminding people that employers and health insurers will be extending coverage to dependents up to age 26 during a special enrollment period this fall.

Friday, September 17, 2010

2010 West Michigan Policy Forum Highlights the Impact of Health Care in Michigan

Yesterday and today business leaders and state and local lawmakers from across Michigan are gathering in Grand Rapids for the 2010 West Michigan Policy Forum. While in Grand Rapids their goal is to discuss, develop and strengthen regional policy and goals to further improve our state. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are key sponsors and supporters of this event.

Health care challenges concerning west Michigan business leaders will be one of the main discussion points during the conference.

Jeffrey L. Connolly, president for West Michigan Operations and Managed Care for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (bio:, is joining other leaders from the health and medical industries in a rapid exchange session titled The Impact of National Health Care on Friday, Sept. 17. Discussion topics will range from health care reform to regulatory issues to affordable health care for small businesses.

Having your voice heard in regards to Michigan’s future should be important to everyone, especially when it relates to the future of health care. Do you plan on attending the conference? What health care topics would you be most interested in hearing Michigan’s leaders discuss? We’d like to know your thoughts.

For more information about the 2010 West Michigan Policy Forum visit:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Blue Cross kicks off wellness efforts across the state

September is here, and it’s a perfect month for getting back into the swing of a schedule, especially with kids going back to school. It’s also a great time to start a regular exercise regime and slip other healthy choices into our daily routines.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are sponsoring several fun community wellness initiatives to help Michiganders get moving and motivated to live healthier this month.

Join the movement (literally!) and participate in one of the events going on in local communities:
While Blue Cross is here to take care of you when you’re sick, we’re also here to help you stay healthy and fit all year round.

All of these events are focused on living well and promoting healthier life choices for everyone. Healthy eating and benefitting from physical activity - it’s all part of how we’re leading Michigan to a healthier future. Won’t you join us?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Technology, medical equipment driving health care costs

The rising cost of health care has been a topic of intense national debate over the past two years, as legislators, health care experts and insurance companies ponder the reasons for the high cost of care and explore possible solutions.

Most studies addressing the reasons for rising health care costs put technology at the top of the list.

As Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan President and CEO Daniel J. Loepp pointed out at an employee meeting, “Everyone today wants the newest, the best equipment. And every new machine costs significantly more than the last. As a culture, we demand the newest and best.”

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Heart attack survivor realizes value of the Blues

When we talk about the cost of health care, it’s easy to get caught up in statistics: the numbers that illustrate the rising cost of care and the dollars that Blue Cross saves the health care system through its various collaborative initiatives.

What often gets lost in the sea of numbers is the personal stories — the tales of men and women whose lives have been transformed by care made affordable by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan insurance.

One such man is John Otterbacher, a psychotherapist and sailing aficionado who has struggled with heart problems since he was in his late 40s. He had his first heart attack in 1996, and has subsequently undergone eight separate heart procedures.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

General Motors shows off new models during Ride & Drive event in Detroit

General Motors recently brought a fleet of new vehicles to the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan headquarters in Detroit for a Ride & Drive promotional event with Blues employees.

Check out this video interview with Wendy Stachowicz of GM’s Vehicle Advocate Program, who talks about the company’s approach to involving its partners as brand ambassadors for new vehicles. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New Blue Cross partnership with U-M, Michigan hospitals aims to clear risk of blood clots in patients

Colloquially speaking, venous thromboembolism may not be much of a conversation starter. But the medical condition more commonly known as the blood clot plays a key role in driving up medical costs and preventable deaths in the U.S.

That’s why the Blues are partnering with the University of Michigan Medical Center and 16 other hospitals to reduce the risk of blood clots in hospitalized patients. It’s the latest of our ongoing efforts to improve patient care across the state.

Hospitalized patients have a higher risk of developing blood clots due to surgery, prolonged periods of immobility, use of certain medications and the presence of other conditions like obesity or congestive heart failure. Patients who develop VTE while hospitalized tend to experience longer hospital stays, poorer clinical outcomes and various ongoing complications.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II contestants to be revealed Monday, Aug. 30

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is teaming up with WDIV-TV and The Parade Company to announce participants in The Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II.

The six Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II finalists will be revealed during the WDIV newscast on Monday, Aug. 30, beginning at 4 p.m. During the announcement, BCBSM President and CEO Daniel J. Loepp will be interviewed by Chuck Gaidica during the 5 p.m. newscast.

This year, 310 people entered the contest. That’s 100 more applicants than last year. The applicants were narrowed down to 60 who were called back for audition interviews. From there, the final six were chosen.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Health insurance 101: Explaining hospital charges and patient costs

[Eighth in a series of posts to help you better understand health insurance and how recent changes affect you.]

If you’ve ever glanced at an Explanation of Benefits form, you know that it contains a confusing array of dollar figures, all for the same medical procedure.

The often wildly divergent figures illustrate how the modern health care system works.

For the sake of illustration, let’s say you go to the hospital, where you receive an outpatient colonoscopy procedure. And let’s say the hospital charges $2,000 (not necessarily a true average charge, but let’s use it for our purposes here.)

But “charges are not the same as cost,” as Ellen Ward, a project manager in Hospital Contracting and Policy for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, points out. “Charges are typically much higher than the total cost of providing a service.”


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