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Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Aurora Health Care announce Blue Priority

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Network to offer lower rates, improved quality of care beginning November 1

Milwaukee, WI – For years, health experts have known that high-quality care is more cost-effective care. Now, two of Wisconsin’s most well-known names in health care are teaming up to bring that value proposition to the marketplace and deliver significant cost savings for local businesses.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Aurora Health Care today announced “Blue Priority,” a pilot project designed to provide a high-quality health care experience that improves outcomes and controls costs.

Blue Priority is a new network offering from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield built around Aurora Health Care’s 15 hospitals and more than 1,500 physicians, as well as its clinics, pharmacies, surgery centers and other services throughout eastern Wisconsin. Through Blue Priority, the two organizations will exchange clinical health data, co-manage patient cases, and establish quality benchmarks in order to enhance health outcomes while eliminating inefficiencies.

“Blue Priority is an important part of our ongoing work to invest in the doctor-patient relationship and help people live their healthiest lives possible,” said Larry Schreiber, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. “By combining the strengths of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Aurora Health Care we believe we can not only improve the quality, safety and value of health care, but also do so at a lower price point than many other products in the market.”

The Blue Priority network will be available on Nov. 1, 2012.

“Blue Priority and our partnership with Anthem will give Wisconsin employers and their employees the opportunity to not only access quality care, but also care that is coordinated to improve outcomes, while eliminating waste and curbing costs,” said Nick Turkal, MD, Aurora Health Care’s president and CEO.

Blue Priority features financial risk sharing between Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Aurora Health Care, quality benchmarking, and patient management collaborations designed to reinforce the importance of the patient experience and align incentives around delivery of high-quality health care.

Together, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Aurora Health Care will proactively manage patient care and improve the overall health of the Blue Priority patient population. Efficiencies and savings will be achieved through a focus on:

  • Helping those in good health stay healthy;
  • Providing care and disease management services that help individuals manage their health conditions more effectively; and
  • Driving improvements in overall health of all Blue Priority members through preventive care and appropriate interventions.

Exact cost savings will vary by employer group, based on their funding arrangement, employee population and current provider utilization patterns, but are expected to be 10 percent on average. In some cases, savings may be even more significant.

Blue Priority is designed for small to medium-sized employers, as well as large, self-insured organizations. Blue Priority members will have in-network access to Aurora Health Care doctors, hospitals, professionals and services, and access to other health care providers at out-of-network rates and benefit levels. Outside of Wisconsin, Blue Priority members will have access to any Blue Cross and Blue Shield-contracted provider at in-network rates, just as all Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield members do today.

Blue Priority participants also will have access to Aurora’s care managers, who can schedule appointments, help patients connect with physicians and follow up with patients who have chronic or complex conditions. This additional support is enhanced by Aurora’s systemwide electronic medical records.

Blue Priority builds upon Aurora Health Care’s success and experience managing the health care needs of its own employees over the past 15 years. As an employer with 48,000 covered lives, Aurora has successfully held its cost of care increases below the national average.

“Aurora is a leader in quality and has been a top performer in several national quality initiatives,” said Dr. Turkal. “Continuous improvement is foundational to how we deliver care.”

Between 2001 and 2010, costs for the Aurora employee health plan rose an average of 6.2 percent per year, well below the national average of 10.7 percent a year. More impressively, between 2008 and 2010 Aurora’s employee health plan costs rose only 1.5 percent a year, while the nation saw average annual increases of 9.0 percent.

“Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is committed to developing next-generation solutions for care, and will continue working with Aurora Health Care and organizations throughout Wisconsin to enhance health in our state,” Schreiber said. “We look forward to seeing improved health outcomes as a result of Blue Priority and are proud to be able to offer significant savings to Wisconsin businesses through this network offering beginning November 1.”

Businesses interested in learning more about Blue Priority and getting a rate quote should contact their insurance broker.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin (BCBSWi), which underwrites or administers the PPO and indemnity policies; Compcare Health Services Insurance Corporation (Compcare), which underwrites or administers the HMO policies; and Compcare and BCBSWi collectively, which underwrite or administer the POS policies. 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 and Blue Shield Association. Additional information about Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin is available at www.anthem.com. Also, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/healthjoinin, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HealthJoinIn, or visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/healthjoinin.

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a nationally recognized leader in efforts to improve health care quality. Aurora offers services at sites in 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois and treats 1.2 million individuals a year.

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