Taking Health Care to the Next Level with Healthy Blue Living Rewards

Blue Care Network introduces Healthy Blue Living RewardsSM, Michigan’s first outcome-based HMO plan that rewards people with lower insurance costs for improving their health and achieving healthy results.

This product is an extension of our already successful Healthy Blue LivingSM product. It makes health care more affordable by taking personal accountability to the next level by lowering copays and deductibles for people who achieve healthy goals.

Healthy Blue Living Rewards’ goal is to improve people’s health, thus building a healthier workforce. This plan looks at specific health measures people can manage such as tobacco use, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.

What makes Healthy Blue Living Rewards different from other health care products? Well, this is the second outcome-based wellness product we’ve launched this year, with Healthy Blue Outcomes being the other. These two outcome-based products are unique in Michigan and are among the first such products to be offered anywhere in the country.

Healthy Blue Living Rewards is a product the business community has been asking for, and BCN is once again first to market with an innovative and affordable solution. You can learn more about Healthy Blue Living and Healthy Blue Living Rewards by visiting MiBCN.com/hbl.

Health insurance 101: How Blues plans reward individual wellness

Fourth in a series of blog posts featuring frequently asked questions about health care insurance.

Previously, we discussed the rise of consumer-directed health care among insurance plans. Those plans sometimes involve provisions designed to encourage or even reward individuals who lead healthy lifestyles.

What incentives are insurance companies offering to members for pursuing healthy lifestyles?

An emerging subset of consumer-directed health plans involves wellness and care-management initiatives. These plans give members the opportunity to lower their premiums and copayments by taking steps to improve their overall health, such as quitting smoking or losing weight.

The Michigan Blues offer a variety of wellness-focused plans through the Healthy Blue ChoicesSM portfolio. Healthy Blue OutcomesSM rewards people who demonstrate tangible improvements in their health with more affordable health insurance coverage.

All of our Healthy Blue Choices programs ask members to complete online health assessments and meet certain health criteria. They encourage participants at risk for certain chronic conditions to speak with health coaches about their personal health issues, goals, treatment options and ways to improve their overall health.

Energy-efficient lighting to swath Detroit-area parking facilities in green

An exterior lighting makeover under way at seven Blue Cross parking locations in Southeast Michigan is expected to save the same amount of energy that 1,000 homes use in a year.

Electricians assemble new inductive lighting fixtures ahead of final installation at downtown Detroit parking deck.

Electricians are working to replace exterior lighting at parking facilities in Detroit, Southfield and South Lyon. The effort, part of the company-wide Blues Go Green initiative, is expected to reduce energy consumption by up to 50 percent and deliver $43,800 in electricity savings each year.

“We’re going from a metal halide to an inductive fixture,” said Christian Meyer, engineering manager with Blue Cross’ Facilities and Support Services division. “Inductive is a breed between a fluorescent and a metal halide.”

The lighting being replaced is characterized by high wattage for light output, long relight times and high maintenance costs.

By contrast, the induction lighting boasts an instant relight time, lower maintenance costs and other benefits. “These fixtures maintain their luminescence or their light output over their lifetime a lot longer than the metal halides,” Meyer said.

Federal energy-efficiency tax credits and rebates available from DTE Energy will make up nearly half the project’s cost. When combined with the utility-bill savings, the Blues expect the project to pay for itself in a little more than two years.

“Since the (lighting) prices came down, and with the green initiatives that are coming from our utilities and the federal government, we couldn’t turn down this project,” Meyer said.

The Blues and DTE earlier this week announced a plan to construct a 200-kilowatt rooftop solar array on one of Blue Cross’ downtown Detroit parking structures. The array is expected to produce about one-fifth of the company’s Lafayette campus base power.

The Blues Go Green initiative targets ways the company can be more environmentally friendly and save money. Perhaps the best-known example is the “living roof” on our parking deck in downtown Detroit, which helps to control storm water runoff and also extends the structure’s lifespan, among other benefits.

Work on the lighting replacement project is expected to wrap up in late July.

Owner of Michigan’s Center for Yoga to appear on NBC show tomorrow night

Jonny Kest, owner and instructor at Center for Yoga, with locations in Ann Arbor, West Bloomfield and Birmingham, Michigan, will be helping a Detroit family fight their battle with the bulge on tomorrow night’s episode of “Losing It with Jillian” at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Center for Yoga is a partner of Healthy Blue XtrasSM, a savings program from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network that offers members discounts on healthy products and services.

Don’t forget to tune in to NBC tomorrow night at 8 p.m to see Jonny. After the episode, leave us your comments. We’d love to hear your thoughts. href=”https://bluesperspectives.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/yoga1.jpg”>

Health insurance 101: Rising costs spur changes in health plan designs

Second in a series of blog posts to help you better understand health insurance and how recent changes affect you. We welcome your comments and questions.

As health care costs rise, the types of plans offered to employees are expanding.

From our own frequently asked questions:

My employer provides me with health insurance but keeps asking me to chip in more money to cover costs. Why can’t I just get a PPO that covers everything without asking me for any contribution, like before?

In general, the percentage of employers that offer group health insurance plans to employees is on the decline, a side effect of rising health care costs. Although the rate of premium costs has slowed in recent years, premiums continue to rise faster than inflation and wages.

While Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan still offers high-quality PPO plans, today’s health care market is shifting more toward consumerism, where individuals are encouraged to take control of their personal wellness and health care spending. And yes, that means employers who offer group coverage are offering high-deductible health plans that ask employees to share more in the costs of their coverage.

In the wake of laws enacted in recent years, insurers have begun offering plans that help individuals better absorb these expenses and use their health dollars more wisely.

A look at some of those plans in greater detail. See also: Costs are rising. What’s a consumer to do?

Michigan leads the way for patient-centered medical homes

Michigan is at the forefront of improving the way primary health care is delivered. The largest patient-centered medical home (PCMH) program in the nation is in our state, with 1,800 physicians in 500 practices now designated as a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan patient-centered medical home.

The medical home is a primary care practice in which a health care team is completely focused on the goals and needs of each patient.  Health problems are detected and treated earlier. The team coordinates patients’ care and guides them as they make their way through the health care system.

National health care leaders and policy makers are watching Michigan to see how the program is working, including it in national and state health reform discussions. Another 3,200 primary care doctors across Michigan are working to implement patient-centered medical home capabilities into their practices, affecting almost 2 million residents.

A recent news release about patient-centered medical home posted on this site a few weeks ago discussed the preliminary data showing that PCMH-designated doctors are improving patient care.

You can find the new list of 1,800 PCMH doctors here.

Still Wondering What the Benefits of PCMH are for Patients? See this slide presentation we put together to help individuals understand what’s in it for them. Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH): The Benefits of a Team Approach to Health Care

BCBSM applauds senior advocates with Claude Pepper Award

Pictured from left to right: Julius Martin, Claude Pepper Award winner; Robert A. Ficano, Wayne County Executive; Louis Kisic, Redford Senior Citizen Club President, Diana C. Jones Award winner; Diane Webb, Wayne County Commissioner for District 9; Nancy Bryk, accepting award for John J. Villa, Claude Pepper Award winner; and Ilona Varga, Wayne County Commissioner for District 5.

Age didn’t stop anyone at the Wayne County Senior Fun Fest on June 26.  It was remarkable to see hundreds of seniors from across metro-Detroit gather for an afternoon filled with music, dancing and even bingo!

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan honored two senior advocates and one organization for their commitment to seniors and outstanding volunteer service at the event. The individuals were honored with Claude Pepper Awards for their professional or volunteer efforts that have made significant contributions to improving the lives of Michigan seniors.

The award recipients received a $1,000 check to give to the nonprofit organizations of their choice.

The honorees are:

Julius Martin – Working-Advocate Category

Julius Martin of Flint is a certified nurse’s aide at Bortz Nursing Home, where he is considered one of the finest health care workers that serve the elderly. Martin puts forth an extra effort to be there for the residents by helping them make phone calls to their families, reading cards and letters to them, talking with them about life accomplishments, and driving them to special events such as family reunions. Ultimately, he improves the lives of older adults by respecting their culture and helping them stay connected to earlier life experiences and family memories.

John J. Villa – Retired Category

At 92 years young, John Villa of Beverly Hills has the zest of a teenager and refutes some of the stereotypes people tend to associate with seniors.  The Villa Wellness Center, named in his honor, benefits more than 350 elderly residents of Southwest Detroit each year.  Seniors are able to enjoy the center’s wellness activities including water aerobics, Zumba® dance, tai’chi, field trips, parties and health fairs.

Redford Senior Citizen Club honored for exemplary service in the community

The Redford Senior Citizen Club received this year’s Diana C. Jones Award for members’ exemplary service in the community and their advocacy efforts to keep seniors informed. Under the direction of president Louis Kisic, members of the Redford Senior Citizen Club live up to it’s mission of “believing that life is a great adventure, and to live it happily and usefully.” The club provides a positive place for seniors to come interact and be informed about important issues affecting their daily lives.

Senior citizen advocates and volunteers are not always properly recognized for their important contributions to the community. Do you know someone who is committed to improving the lives of the elderly?

Employers motivate employees to lose weight with BCBSM’s “Win by Losing” competition

Win by Losing, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s popular weight-loss competition for group customers, is ready to kick off another exciting round of friendly competition on August 30.

Last year, the Blues launched this creative weight-loss challenge as a way for group customers to motivate their employees to create a healthier workplace by shedding those unwanted pounds.

Since the Blues launched the first round of the competition in the fall of 2009, participants from across the state have discovered the benefits of achieving healthier lifestyles. Between two rounds of competition, Win by Losing contestants have lost a grand total of 5,532 pounds – more than two and a half tons of weight.

Registration for the next round of competition starts on August 23. In the meantime, check out this video of some of the winners from the last round of competition and find out how they became the top “losers.”

Visit http://www.bcbsm.com/yourhealth to learn more about the competition.