|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
"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
"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
Featured in the NCQA’s report are profiles of
companies with innovative wellness programs, and expert perspectives on
- 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 www.ncqa.org/tabid/1052/Default.aspx.