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Seeking More Care

More is better and the more it costs, the better it is. That's the philosophy that many of us have when purchasing other goods and services. But when it comes to health care, more care is not necessarily better care. Consider these facts:
  • Studies indicate that at a routine checkup, there is a 43 percent chance that you'll receive a test that is not needed1
  • Peter Orszag, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, estimates that five percent of the nation's gross domestic product — $700 billion per year — goes to tests and procedures that do not actually improve health outcomes2
  • Another paper published by Thomson Reuters indicates the U.S. health care system wastes between $600 billion and $850 billion annually3
  • The average cost of an ER visit in Iowa and South Dakota is nine times more than a primary care physician office visit — $976 compared to $1184
What Wellmark Is Doing
  • Working with physicians to explore offering more evening and weekend treatment options so that the emergency room is used for true emergencies
  • Looking at benefits to make sure the out-of-pocket costs encourage members to make the best choice for care
  • Helping to educate members so that they can make decisions based on quality and cost
  • Working with Iowa and South Dakota hospitals and physicians to encourage referrals to other local providers in Iowa and South Dakota
What You Can Do
  • If you're not sure if you need to go to an emergency room for care, call Personal Health Assistant 24/7 at 1-800-724-9122 and speak with a nurse
  • Research options for after-hours care where you work and live
  • Use tools and resources to help you make decisions based on quality 
  • Use network providers in Iowa and South Dakota
  • Ask to have test results you've already had done sent to new doctors or specialists to avoid repeat tests

1Merenstein, D. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, June 2006; vol 30: pp 521-527

2Office of Management and Budget, A View From The Institute of Medicine, Oct. 5, 2009

3Where Can $700 Billion In Waste Be Cut Annually From The U.S. Healthcare System?, Thomson Reuters, October 2009

4Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield Health Care Analytics, August 2010


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