Updated: May 4, 2015

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Obesity-related illnesses cost an estimated $190.2 billion, or nearly 21 percent of annual medical spending in the U.S., according to the Journal of Health Economics. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) announces 15 health care facilities in North Carolina as part of the Blue Distinction® Centers for Specialty Care program. These noteworthy health care facilities have been designated as Blue Distinction® Centers+ for delivering better overall outcomes for bariatric patients while also meeting key requirements for cost efficiency.

To earn recognition as a Blue Distinction Center+ for Bariatric Surgery, a health care facility must demonstrate success in meeting patient safety targets as well as bariatric-specific quality measures. These include reducing complications and readmissions for gastric stapling and/or gastric banding procedures. 

Blue Distinction Center+ facilities have also earned national accreditations at both the facility level and the bariatric care level, and demonstrated better cost efficiency relative to their peers. Quality is key: only those facilities that first meet Blue Distinction’s nationally-established, objective quality measures will be considered for designation as a Blue Distinction Center+.

“Earning the Blue Distinction Center+ designation shows commitment to safety, quality and cost, three important standards to our customers,” said BCBSNC Chief Medical Officer Susan Weaver, M.D. “We value these facilities for keeping their standards high and through this recognition they empower customers to better manage their care when choosing bariatric surgery.”

The Blue Distinction Center+ for Bariatric Surgery facilities are:

  • Carolinas Medical Center – Mercy, Charlotte
  • Carolinas Medical Center Northeast, Concord
  • Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, Fayetteville
  • Duke Regional Hospital, Durham
  • Duke Raleigh Hospital, Raleigh
  • Frye Regional Medical Center, Hickory
  • Lake Norman Regional Medical Center, Mooresville
  • Mission Hospital Inc., Asheville
  • Nash General, Rocky Mount
  • New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Wilmington
  • North Carolina Baptist Hospital, Winston Salem
  • Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, Charlotte*
  • Rex Hospital, Raleigh
  • UNC Hospital, Chapel Hill
  • Wakemed Cary Hospital, Cary
  • Wesley Long Hospital, Greensboro

*Received designation May 1, 2015

Bariatric surgeries are among the most common elective surgeries in the U.S., which provides a significant opportunity to improve quality and efficiency within the health care system. There were 179,000 bariatric surgeries performed in 2013, according to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, with an average cost of more than $28,000, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Furthermore, it is estimated that 72 million Americans are obese and 24 million suffer from morbid obesity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Research shows that facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients compared with their peers. On average, Blue Distinction Centers+ are also 20 percent or more cost efficient than non-Blue Distinction Center+ designated health care facilities.

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality providers for their specialty care needs in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacements, spine surgery, and transplants while encouraging health care professionals to improve the care they deliver. For more information about the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program and for a complete listing of the designated facilities, please visit www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction.


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina improves the health and well-being of our customers and communities by providing innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.91 million members, including approximately 1 million served on behalf of other Blue Plans. Since 1933, we have worked to make North Carolina a better place to live through our support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. We have been recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute every year since 2012. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit BCBSNC online at bcbsnc.com. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 37 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for nearly 105 million members – one in three Americans. For more information on the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit bcbs.com. We encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out The BCBS Blog, for up-to-date information about BCBSA.

About Blue Distinction Centers
Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures for patient safety and outcomes, developed with input from the medical community. Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) also met cost measures that address consumers’ need for affordable healthcare. Individual outcomes may vary. National criteria is displayed on www.bcbs.com. A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for facilities located in its own service area. For details on Local Blue Plan Criteria, a provider’s in-network status, or your own policy’s coverage, contact your Local Blue Plan. Each facility’s cost of care is evaluated using data from its Local Blue Plan. Facilities in CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in two Local Blue Plans’ areas, resulting in two evaluations for cost of care; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether one or both cost of care evaluation(s) must meet BDC+ national criteria. Neither Blue Cross Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for damages or non-covered charges resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers.