City of Manchester, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield enhance Compass SmartShopper Program

Citing strong interest and engagement from city employees as well as requests from school district members, the city of Manchester and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire announced today enhancements to the innovative Compass SmartShopper Program as well as the addition of Manchester school district employees to the project.

Under the Compass SmartShopper Program, employees receive financial rewards for choosing more cost-effective providers for a host of outpatient exams and procedures.  As the city of Manchester and the school district are self-funded, each realizes lower claims costs when members utilize lower-cost providers.

"There can be a great variation in cost for the same services," noted Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas.  "You can have exactly the same technology and some cases the same doctor providing a service in two different settings, but the cost difference can be significant.  Under the Compass SmartShopper Program, members now have access to relative cost information on all area providers and the ability to choose a lower-cost alternative."

Here's how the program works:  a member is referred by their physician for a medical service or diagnostic exam.  The member then contacts Compass Health Care Advisers, a local company, which provides relative cost and incentive information for area health care providers.  If a member chooses to receive care from a cost-effective provider for his or her health care service, they qualify for financial incentives ranging from $50 - $100.  The city of Manchester and the Manchester school district avoid higher claims costs while providing financial rewards through an incentive payment for the employee making an informed health care decision.

"If we are to reform health care in a meaningful way, we must find a way to control and reduce health care costs," said Douglas J. Wenners, President and General Manager, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire.  "The Compass SmartShopper Program can not only better control the rising cost of care, but it also can serve to create a more informed medical consumer."

Mr. Wenners added that while all employees of the city and school district are automatically enrolled in the program, participation is completely voluntary and confidential.  

The newly enhanced program now targets more than 30 high volume elective procedures and tests including: Carpal Tunnel Surgery, Cataract Surgery, Colonoscopy, CT (Computerized Tomography) Scan, Ear/Nose/Throat Surgery, Gall Bladder Surgery, Hernia Repair, Knee Arthroscopy, Lap Band Surgery, Mammography, MRI, Pain Injections, Shoulder Arthroscopy, Sinus Surgery, and Upper GI diagnostic exams.

In January, Anthem and the city and introduced the Compass SmartShopper Program to city employees and their dependants.  The favorable early response as well as inquiries from school district employees, led to the expansion of the current program as well as the addition of the school district.  "The response has been very encouraging to date," Mayor Gatsas noted.  "In a little over three months, we've fielded hundreds of phone calls from interested city employees and more than two dozen have already earned an incentive. And we feel that this is only the beginning."


Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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