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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.

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