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February 22, 2018

DES MOINES, IA – Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield today announced eight Iowa hospitals and two South Dakota hospitals have achieved the Blue Distinction® Centers Specialty Care program for bariatric surgery. These health care facilities have been designated either as Blue Distinction Centers or Blue Distinction Centers+ for delivering quality care resulting in better overall outcomes for bariatric patients.

Iowa Specialty Hospital
BelmondBlue Distinction Center
Sartori Memorial Hospital
Cedar Falls
Blue Distinction Center+
Genesis Medical Center
Blue Distinction Center+
Iowa Methodist Medical Center
Des Moines
Blue Distinction Center+
Grinnell Regional Medical Center
Blue Distinction Center+
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
Iowa City
Blue Distinction Center+
Mercy Medical Center North Iowa
Mason City
Blue Distinction Center+
Mercy Medical Center West Lakes
West Des Moines
Blue Distinction Center+

South Dakota
Avera McKennan Hospital
Sioux FallsBlue Distinction Center+
Sanford Medical Center
Sioux Falls
Blue Distinction Center+

To receive a Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery designation, a health care facility must demonstrate success in meeting patient safety measures as well as bariatric-specific quality measures, including complication and readmission rate for laparoscopic procedures in sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass, and adjustable gastric band. A health care facility must also be nationally accredited at both the facility and bariatric program-specific levels.

Quality is key: Only those health care facilities that first meet Blue Distinction’s nationally-established, objective quality measures will be considered for designation as a Blue Distinction Center+.

In 2017, the Blue Distinction Centers for Bariatric Surgery program expanded to include not only the type of service provided but also the site of care. Health care facilities were evaluated as either a comprehensive center or as an ambulatory surgery center.

Most common elective surgery

Bariatric surgeries are among the most common elective surgeries in the U.S., which provides significant opportunity to improve quality within the health care system. There were 196,000 bariatric surgeries performed in 2015, according to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), and the average cost is more than $28,000 per episode, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association External Site. Furthermore, it is estimated that nearly 36.5 percent of U.S. adults and 17 percent of youth are obese and impacted by obesity-related health conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related conditions are nearly $210 billion per year in the U.S., according to the Journal of Health Economics. On average, health care costs were reduced by 29 percent within five years following bariatric surgery, due to the reduction or elimination of obesity-related conditions, according to ASMBS.

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) companies across the nation have recognized more than 550 health care facilities as Blue Distinction Centers for Bariatric Surgery. Health care facilities recognized with this designation are assessed using a combination of publicly available quality information and cost measures derived from BCBS companies’ medical claims.

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality specialty care in the areas of bariatric surgery, cancer care, cardiac care, maternity care, knee and hip replacements, spine surgery, and transplants, while encouraging health care professionals to improve the care they deliver. Research shows that, compared to other health care facilities, those designated as Blue Distinction Centers demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients. On average, Blue Distinction Centers+ are also 20 percent more cost-efficient than non-Blue Distinction Center+ designated facilities.

For more information about the program and for a complete listing of the designated facilities, please visit External Site.