CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Though more than half of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) members are overweight or obese, many perceive their weight as “just right” – an apparent perception gap in how body weight impacts health.
BCBSNC, in its annual State of Preventive Health report, today released a variety of preventive care data based on an extensive analysis of 2003 claims from nearly 1.1 million of its members. Among the findings:
- More than half of BCBSNC members are overweight or obese – comparable to state and national statistics – yet many are apparently unaware of research indicating that being overweight may lead to significant health problems.
- Members are utilizing preventive care at approximately the same rate as found in the 2003 Report.
- BCBSNC members are slightly less likely to smoke and more likely to be physically active than the North Carolina population as a whole. Nineteen percent of adult members are regular tobacco users compared to 26 percent for North Carolina and 23 percent for the nation.
“This ‘perception gap’ is an important clue in our ongoing efforts to find the most effective way to improve rates of preventive care,” said Bob Greczyn, president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. “Despite significant efforts to promote preventive care by employers, insurers, physicians and health advocates, the 2004 State of Preventive Health Report confirms that it is very difficult to ‘move the needle’ in this area.”
BCBSNC issued the report at the State of Preventive Health Summit today in Charlotte and Greenville. The State of Preventive Health Summit is an annual gathering of statewide health leaders designed by BCBSNC to spark discussion on improving rates of preventive care, addressing important health risk factors and understanding attitudes about preventive health.
This year’s report identifies patterns in how members utilize preventive health services through an analysis of consistent, measurable claims data for PPO, HMO and POS product lines covering approximately 1.1 million members. Since this group represents about 12 percent of the state’s population, the report’s findings have relevance for the state as a whole. The high rate of obesity and low rate of preventive care identified in the study make it clear that North Carolina faces significant challenges in improving the health status of its citizens.
“This report helps us shape communication to our members and modify educational programs to be more effective. The report also makes clear that we need to do even more to encourage preventive care and get information to members on how being overweight affects their health,” said Dr. Robert T. Harris, BCBSNC senior vice president and chief medical officer. “We are finalizing some exciting changes in our benefits that we believe will help address these concerns.”
BCBSNC already makes available to members a variety of programs promoting preventive care, including efforts to reduce tobacco use, lessen stress, and encourage appropriate health screenings and flu vaccinations. In addition, the Member Health Partnerships program provides additional guidance to members with chronic health conditions.
This year’s report offers several recommendations on what health care leaders can do to promote preventive health behaviors:
- Identify and address barriers to regular health screenings and examinations
- Engage in healthy lifestyle counseling for patients and provide incentives and tools for physicians to do so
- Stem the rise in obesity by providing programs, counseling and incentives for maintaining a healthy lifestyle
- Seek new and better ways of collaborating with all involved parties to bring about improvements in preventive care and to promote healthy living.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to approximately 3 million members, including approximately 500,000 served on behalf of other Blue plans. The company offers its members the Blue ExtrasSM value–added programs, which provide discounts and information on a wide variety of health–related services at no additional cost. BCBSNC also offers life, dental, long–term care and disability insurance products. For 71 years, the company has served its customers by offering access to quality health care at a competitive price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health.
BCBSNC’s HMO and POS products have earned Excellent Accreditation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), an independent, not–for–profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of health care delivered to people everywhere. BCBSNC also has North Carolina’s first and only NCQA accredited PPO plan – Blue OptionsSM. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Access BCBSNC online at bcbsnc.com.