Pittsburgh - Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield will offer members additional information on hospital quality information and treatment options online through its member Web site. As consumer-driven products shift decision-making responsibility to consumers, insurers are providing more information to help members make health care decisions."Highmark continues to provide additional resources to help our members make informed decisions that give them a greater hand in their health," says Kim Bellard, Highmark's vice president of e-marketing and CRM. "Our goal is to give members clear, accurate information about their health care options --choice of providers, costs and treatment options."

The insurer has contracted with Subimo LLC, a provider of Web-based health care decision support tools. Currently, 75% of Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in the United States use Subimo tools, and nearly 75 million Americans have access through their insurance company or employer.

Using Subimo's Healthcare Advisor and Hospital Advisor, members can access health care information in both English and Spanish on hospitals, medical conditions and treatment options. Healthcare Advisor enables consumers to research treatment options, know what to expect prior to surgery and find the appropriate hospital for a certain health need. Hospital Advisor helps enrollees prepare for impending hospitalization by providing detailed information on hospitals across the country from such sources as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.

Information is available through the Highmark Web site at http://www.highmarkbcbs.com/.

"Highmark is a leading customer-focused health insurer with a history of furthering member empowerment," says Subimo Vice President David Shevock. "Both of our organizations embrace decision-support tools as an integral component for helping consumers get the health care cost and quality information they need."

Highmark took the lead in developing consumer-driven products with BlueChoice, one of the first consumer-directed health plans that enabled members to select the level of benefits that best meets their individual needs online. The insurer increased its consumer-directed offerings in 2003, by introducing BlueAccount, which pairs a high-deductible Preferred Provider Organization coverage with a health reimbursement account.

Highmark's latest consumer-driven program--Highmark Lifestyle Returns--helps employers support their employees in becoming more involved in their health and reward them for their efforts, which could have a positive impact on an employer's health care costs in the long-run. The insurer continues to be at the forefront in the development of consumer-driven products that engage employees in their care decisions and in providing the educational tools needed to help them make informed health care decisions.

Source: Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield

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