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Home / News & IndustryManaged Care Insight and Analysis
Updated: March 9, 2010
Blue Cross Plan First To Receive Wellness And Health Promotion Accreditation

A health plan and a wellness vendor have earned accreditation from the Wellness and Health Promotion Program begun late last year by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).

The NCQA identified the health plan Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City as the first organization to receive NCQA accreditation for Wellness and Health Promotion.

Accreditation will help employers and others compare wellness programs using standardized results and select a wellness program with demonstrated value and quality. Sixteen employer organizations had committed to undergoing a review when the program was begun.

"Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is a national model for offering purchasers wellness programs that can improve employee health and lower costs," said Margaret E. O’Kane, NCQA president.

"Employers today expect value for their health plan dollars and that requires that we do more than just pay claims. Customers want us to be a wellness partner and to help them improve their employees’ health and contribute to a more productive workforce," said Brian Burns, senior vice president, health care services of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.

The accreditation program is an assessment of key areas of health promotion, including how wellness programs are implemented in the workplace, how services such as coaching are provided to help participants develop skills to make healthy choices and how individual health information is properly safeguarded. Fifteen other organizations from around the country have committed to being reviewed for Wellness and Health Promotion Accreditation in 2009.

The NCQA issued a report, "Putting the Health in Health Care," which examines how employers are increasingly supplementing traditional health benefits with innovative wellness programs that support such healthy habits for employees as diet, exercise, stress reduction, injury prevention and active management of personal health through use of online tools.

The report noted that numerous companies are successfully making wellness and health promotion "a centerpiece" of their efforts to manage health care costs while reaping productivity gains as well. "Our own development of a Wellness and Health Promotion Accreditation Program reflects the explosive growth of the wellness industry in the past few years," said O’Kane.

NCQA said it believes its accreditation program will help employers and others compare wellness programs using standardized results and select a wellness program with demonstrated value and quality.

Featured in the NCQA’s report are profiles of companies with innovative wellness programs, and expert perspectives on wellness, including:

  • Peter Wald, MD, MPH, vice president and enterprise medical director for USAA, a large financial services company headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, with 22,000 employees, and winner of the C. Everett Koop National Health Award in 2006.
  • Jeffrey Harris, MD, MPH, MBA, director of the University of Washington Health Promotion Research Center and the Health Marketing Research Center.
  • Maria Beltramello, Aetna’s head of strategy for e-health and wellness.
  • Dr. Dean Ornish, founder and president of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute, and clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

The annual report is now available free on NCQA’s Web site at

  This article was taken from:
The Executive Report on Managed Care

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