Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Members Save Money, Time through Home Sleep Testing

  Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Members Save Money, Time through Home
  Sleep Testing

  Sleep Management Program Supports Quality and Cost Effectiveness for Sleep
                                   Testing

Business Wire

MASON, Ohio -- December 04, 2012

Anthem Blue and Cross Blue Shield members could gain convenience and
potentially save money and time by testing for obstructive sleep apnea at home
while sleeping in their own bed.  In-home tests generally cost $200-$400,
which is significantly less than facility tests in Ohio that range from $830
in an independent freestanding center to more than $1800 in a hospital
outpatient department.

“For members who have high-deductible plans or consumer-driven health plans,
this program can be useful in helping them control the portion of their health
care costs they pay directly,” said Dr. Barry Malinowski, medical director for
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio. “The sleep management program is
one of several programs we are putting in place to help members and employers
reduce or maintain costs while still offering the same quality of services. We
are hopeful that these kinds of programs can also help us in controlling the
rise of insurance premiums.”

More than 12 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea and many are
undiagnosed, according to the National Institutes of Health. It’s a condition
caused by the obstruction of the upper airway that causes repetitive pauses in
breathing during sleep that can lead to daytime sleepiness or fatigue. Sleep
apnea also increases health risks, such as cardiovascular disease, high blood
pressure, stroke, diabetes, depression, weight gain and obesity.

The Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine estimated in 2010 that
the total annual economic cost of sleep apnea was $65-$165 billion – greater
than asthma, heart failure, stroke and hypertensive disease. The numbers
included costs to diagnose and treat the condition, with a much larger
percentage of the costs derived from hidden health care costs related to its
impact on other diseases and its role in motor vehicle accidents.

While a home-based test is likely appropriate for 70-80 percent of patients
with suspected sleep apnea, Anthem claims data show only about 1-2 percent of
all sleep apnea testing takes place at home, according to a 2010 analysis by 
AIM Specialty Health, which is operating the sleep management program.
Physicians enter information about their patient into an AIM web service tool
to determine whether an at-home test is appropriate for their patient.

According to a research study published in SLEEP (June 2012), home-based
diagnosis and therapy for obstructive sleep apnea are clinically appropriate
in properly selected patients and achieve better long-term patient compliance.
The criteria established for those patients are similar to those in AIM’s
program. For those whose condition is more appropriate for facility testing,
Anthem will contact members and inform them of options for sleep testing sites
that have met accreditation guidelines and provide competitive prices.

Members can easily set up home sleep tests and sleep in their own beds. Data
is collected by the device and analyzed by technicians and physicians. Once a
member receives a machine used to treat sleep apnea, equipment vendors can
monitor to see how regularly the patient is wearing the device and follow up
with calls to help resolve issues.

“If members are struggling, we want to get them help as soon as possible so
they can get back on track, improve their chances of benefiting from therapy,
and ultimately produce overall better outcomes,” said Malinowski.

The program is available now to fully insured and many self-insured members.
Anthem has plans to expand the offering to self-insured groups in 2013.

About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name of Community Insurance
Company, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross 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 aboutAnthem Blue
Crossand Blue Shield in Ohio 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.

About AIM Specialty Health

AIM Specialty Health or “AIM” is a leading specialty benefit management
company with more than 20 years of experience and a growing presence in the
management of radiology, cardiology, oncology, sleep medicine, and specialty
pharmacy benefits. AIM's mission is to make health care services more
clinically appropriate, safer and more affordable. As such, it promotes the
most appropriate use of specialty care services through the application of
widely accepted clinical guidelines delivered via an innovative platform of
technologies and services. AIM is an operating subsidiary of WellPoint, Inc.
(NYSE: WLP;www.wellpoint.com). For more information on AIM, please visit
www.aimspecialtyhealth.com.

Contact:

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield
Media Contact:
Kim Ashley, (513) 445-0191
 
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