Preventive care saved Anthem Blue Cross $8M in 1 year

Anthem Blue Cross of California saved almost $8 million in just one year by emphasizing preventive care and paying its doctors additional money to give enhanced attention to patients with chronic conditions, including diabetes, asthma and congestive heart failure, reported the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Much of the cost savings came from Anthem's participating doctors, who treated about 200,000 patients with multiple chronic conditions, not having to order as many tests and procedures or providing more serious interventions. For example, Anthem's preventive care program led to a 7.3 percent reduction in hospital admissions per 1,000 patients from the six participating medical groups.

"It's important to understand that this is not rationing of care," Michael Belman, an Anthem medical director, told the Union-Tribune. "This is reducing care that may not be necessary or beneficial to patients in the first place."

But despite lowering spending on inpatient care, office visits and outpatient services, Anthem saw a 4.2 percent rise in generic drug expenses. That's because more patients with chronic conditions were taking better care of themselves by, for example, consistently taking their medications.

Recent research shows that individuals who purchased health coverage via online exchanges in 2014 were more likely to book checkups than those covered through their employer, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

An added benefit of Anthem's program, Belman said, is that it could eventually help the insurer increase its competitive edge in the market. By lowering overall healthcare costs, Anthem could soon decrease premiums as well. "The ultimate goal is to bring down the cost curve so that we can bring premiums down and remain competitive in the marketplace," he explained.

To learn more:
- read the San Diego Union-Tribune article