Blue Cross plans push wellness

The nation's fourth largest health insurance company has kicked off an initiative that focuses on using its resources more on patient wellness. Chicago-based Health Care Service Corp., whose subsidiaries include Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and BCBS plans in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma, has more than 12 million members. Health Care Service Corp. has added the word "wellness" to the mission statements of each of these plans, as well as launching initiatives like adding wellness programs to its basic health benefit plans. The health plans are also offering beneficiaries extra incentives to stay well by, for example, earning points for participating in such preventive measures as cholesterol screenings and wellness risk assessments.

Giving consumers--not just providers--direct incentives to stay well seems like a good idea. Let's see, however, if these programs mature into something that goes significantly beyond what U.S. health plans already are doing to meet wellness and preventive goals.

To learn more about the plans:
- read this Chicago Tribune piece

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