POH Riley Foundation’s Sister & Sister Initiative Promotes Free Mammogram Services, Breast Health Education for Women in Oakland County

Participants in the fourth annual Sister & Sister Health and Education Day event played a round of breast health Bingo.

Participants in the fourth annual Sister & Sister Health and Education Day event played a round of breast health Bingo.

We know mammograms save lives but not everyone can afford them. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is collaborating with the POH Riley Foundation’s Sister & Sister Free Mammogram program to encourage both men and women to learn about breast health. The Riley Foundation promotes breast cancer awareness and provides free, ongoing mammogram screenings for uninsured and under-insured women in Oakland County.

October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Blue Cross is supporting efforts throughout the state to promote awareness and education about breast cancer prevention.

As part of the awareness campaign, the Riley Foundation hosted its fourth annual Sister & Sister Health and Education Day on Oct. 1. Nearly 100 people attended the free event to learn about breast health and pick up free mammogram vouchers.

The Sister & Sister program will continue to host two Breast Health Education Courses per month throughout the year, and continue to provide free mammogram vouchers. They also have health educators and cancer survivors available to speak to community groups, especially targeting African American women.

Here are some facts about breast cancer:

  • One in eight women will develop breast cancer.
  • Caucasian women have higher rates of breast cancer but black women have a higher mortality rate.
  • Approximately 39,840 women in the U.S. died in 2010 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1990. These decreases are possibly the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness.
  • For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates rank higher than any other cancer, besides lung cancer.

Annual mammograms and regular breast self-exams are the key to early detection. If caught early enough, the survival rate for breast cancer is 98 percent.

Have you or your loved one had a lifesaving mammogram this year?

Story of Breast Cancer Survival Highlights the Power of Early Detection and a Positive Attitude

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Headquarters Building Breast Cancer Ribbon Display 2011October marks National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has been working with several partners throughout the state to remind residents of the power of early detection and prevention.

Breast cancer continues to impact the lives of people through the state. Most of us are connected in some way to someone who has battled breast cancer, whether it’s a coworker, friend or relative.

“Twelve percent of women, which is 1 in 8 women in the U.S., will actually get invasive breast cancer in their lifetime,” said Grace Derocha, a registered dietitian and health and wellness coach at BCBSM.

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Blues CEO Dan Loepp Talks Health Care Costs, Quality and Accountability on WJR’s Paul W. Smith Show

Daniel J. Loepp

Blue Cross made its presence felt at the Crain’s Health Care Leadership Summit in Detroit on Thursday. Daniel J. Loepp, president and CEO, delivered the welcoming address and earlier stopped by the WJR-AM radio booth for a live interview with host Paul W. Smith to talk about health care reform, partnering to lower costs and improve the quality of care and other topics in the news. A snippet:

Smith: We don’t know for sure the impacts of reform but we do know that there’s an opportunity to make health care work better for everyone. We need to save costs, save money, but we also need to make sure that the quality of care is there.

Loepp: Absolutely, and I think the two words that come to mind for me, and you and I have talked often about this, is accountability and responsibility, I think both on the provider’s side, the insurer’s side and the subscriber’s side. People taking care of themselves, paying attention to their health, best practices by hospitals and physicians and insurance companies. And if we can do that and we continue to talk—I was up in Marquette on Monday, I spoke to the economic club—talking about collaboration and when we do collaborate with each other and we’ve done that with the hospitals and the docs, we’re seeing savings in Michigan because of that and I think that’s part of what we’re going to talk about today.

Listen here: Paul W Smith Broadcast with Dan Loepp

Drop Off Your Old Medications at National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Oct. 29

We’ve all done it at some point — use our medicine cabinets to stack up old prescriptions like canned goods in a food pantry. Eventually they must go, but it’s important to dispose of them safely. And sending medications down the drain or toilet is not the way to go.

Since medicine doesn’t lose potency just because it’s expired, flushing them away doesn’t mean they’re gone. Recent studies have linked water contamination via prescription disposal with abnormalities in aquatic species like fish and octopus.

So the saying, “There must be something in the water” might actually ring true. Scary, right?

On Saturday, Oct. 29th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the federal Drug Enforcement Agency will hold its third National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. It’s your last chance in 2011 to dispose of expired, over-the-counter or prescription pills and capsules in an anonymous, environmentally safe way. There are drop-off sites all over our great state.

On the last Take-Back Day on April 30, the DEA collected 376,593 pounds of pills and capsules across 5,361 collection sites.

Could your medicine cabinet use a little breathing room?

Photo credit: Mr. T in DC

Action Plan Unveiled in Washington D.C. to Promote Partnerships in Health Care Quality, Cost Savings

The "Building Tomorrow's Healthcare System" plan from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association calls for inspiring healthier living, among other recommendations.

Blues CEO Daniel J. Loepp traveled to Washington D.C. last week to join Scott Serota of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association in announcing a comprehensive action plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system by improving quality and reining in costs.

Loepp was on hand to help Scott Serota, CEO of the BCBSA, unveil “Building Tomorrow’s Healthcare System: The Pathway to High-Quality, Affordable Care in America,” a four-pronged approach to building tomorrow’s health care system based on efforts to contain costs and improve quality where BCBSM is already making measurable progress.

The “Pathway” plan focuses on rewarding quality and safety while taking on rising health care costs. It advocates for a public-private partnership in four areas:

  • Rewarding safety
  • Doing what works and focusing on quality outcomes, instead of paying for expensive services that may be ineffective or redundant
  • Reinforcing front-line primary care
  • Inspiring Americans to live healthy and make better choices

Loepp, who is also chairman of the BCBSA board of directors, told the media about the Keystone Center for Patient Safety and Quality, BCBSM’s widely recognized partnership with the Michigan Health & Hospital Association. He also shared some of the early achievements of the Patient-Centered Medical Home program, the largest in the country.

“We are helping to create a culture of patient safety in Michigan,” Loepp said. “We know our efforts are saving money and creating more consistent application of best practices, but more importantly, these efforts are leading to better outcomes and ultimately saving lives.”

If adopted, the recommendations would save $319 billion over the next decade, according to a study by Ken Thorpe, chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.

For more information, read the BCBSA news release, or read the Pathway action plan.

BCBSA is the parent organization of the 39 independent, locally based Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, including the Michigan Blues.

Photo by Christiana Care.

Lions Fans Add Pink to Honolulu Blue, Silver as Breast Cancer Awareness Hits Monday Night Football

Ford Field underwent a pink-out as the Detroit Lions beat the Chicago Bears 24-13 in a nationally televised Monday Night Football game. Many spectators in the crowd of 67,861 — a Lions Ford Field record — waved bright pink “Curable” towels that Blue Cross distributed in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Blues also presented a $10,000 donation to the American Cancer Society before the game.

Below is a roundup of news coverage about the promotional event and a slideshow of photos from Ford Field. And don’t forget to share your story of surviving breast cancer at Making Strides on A Healthier Michigan.

WXYZ-TV reporter Smita Kalokhe: “Now it is all about the Honolulu blue, but it is also all about pink today. Very important message that we are sending here and let me tell you, real men wear pink.”

Detroit News: The Curable Towel, modeled after the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Terrible Towel, will be distributed free to the first 50,000 fans at Ford Field, who will be encouraged to wave them on national television to advocate for breast cancer awareness, the National Football League’s pet cause in October. It also is the first marketing hit for a new Metro Detroit fundraising effort.

The towel makes Detroit stand out, said Stephen McDaniel, an associate professor at University of Maryland and a consumer psychologist who studies sports marketing and fan behavior.

“This is so unique because in addition to the players sporting pink, now the fans are involved,” he said. “Teams are always looking how to enhance the fan experience, and this satisfies that in a big way, plus it’s tied to a worthy cause.”

Freep: As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will supply 50,000 bright pink towels to fans inside the downtown Detroit stadium for tonight’s game.

The towels are meant to raise awareness about the importance of breast cancer screenings. Fans are urged to wave the towels during the nationally televised game.

Crain’s Detroit Business: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is supplying 50,000 bright pink towels as part of a partnership between the Lions and the health insurer. Both organizations will honor breast cancer survivors. The Blues also will make a $10,000 donation to the American Cancer Society.

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How Our New Building Healthy Communities Partnership Aligns With Governor Snyder’s Call for Collaboration

Gov. Rick Snyder recently said that “health is the foundation for Michigan’s economic transformation,” and in alignment with his broader plea to improve residents’ health and combat obesity, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has announced a partnership with Wayne State University and the Michigan Fitness Foundation to expand its Building Healthy Communities school grant program.

The three organizations collectively will bring a additional expertise and resources to the Building Healthy Communities program, which provides grants for things like physical activity and school nutrition programs.

We’ve all heard plenty about the obesity crisis in our country. It affects everyone in some way. You may be personally struggling with a high BMI or bearing the financial burden of higher health care costs for an unhealthy employee population.

Regardless, obesity is taking its toll on all of us. The health of Michigan residents and their communities directly impacts the state’s ability to compete on a national and international scale.

In his speech outlining the state’s health care plans, Snyder encouraged schools to “facilitate participation in physical activity and health education throughout all grade levels.” He also asked schools to improve their nutrition standards, encouraged organizations to work together to move the needle on obesity and challenged all Michiganders to adopt adopt healthier lifestyles.

Blue Cross has provided funding to 63 schools across the state since 2009 under the program, reaching more than 24,000 Michigan students. The expanded Building Healthy Communities program will continue to address childhood obesity with physical activity and healthy eating with the added resources and opportunities from Wayne State’s Center for School Health and the Michigan Fitness Foundation.

Check out a video on our new partnership below. Do your schools educate students on health and nutrition? If so, how do they communicate the importance of a healthy lifestyle and model healthy behaviors?

New Ways to Save on Healthy Purchases for Michigan Blue Cross Members

Michigan Blue Cross Members Save at Local/National Retailers with Healthy Blue Xtras

Healthy Blue Xtras Program Adds New Discounts for BCBSM Members

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan members can save money on health and fitness purchases through our Healthy Blue XtrasSM program.

Healthy Blue Xtras has more than 50 vendors that offer special savings to Blues members. And we’re adding new vendors all the time. In the past few months, we’ve added:

Blues Members: Are You Registered?

If you’re a member, you can log in to BCBSM’s Member Secured Services at bcbsm.com/xtras to learn more about participating retailers and available discounts.

Then, all you have to do is show your Blues ID cards at participating stores or type in the members-only offer code during online checkout to receive special savings. That’s it. There are no coupons to print out or separate discount cards to carry around.

New retailers and discounts are frequently added to our program. Don’t forget to sign up on our website to receive updates on new savings opportunities as they become available.