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January 14, 2021

DES MOINES, IA – Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has recognized 10 health care facilities as part of the Blue Distinction® Centers for Specialty Care program in the area of bariatric surgery. These noteworthy facilities have been designated as either Blue Distinction® Centers, for delivering quality care resulting in better overall outcomes for bariatric patients, or as Blue Distinction® Centers+, for delivering the same quality care as Blue Distinction Centers while also meeting key requirements for cost efficiency.

Bariatric surgeries are among the most common elective surgeries in the U.S. According to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, in 2018 there were 252,000 bariatric surgeries performed. Additionally, in 2018, the prevalence of obesity was over 40 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Journal of Health Economics states the estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illnesses are $190.2 billion, or nearly 21 percent of annual medical spending in the U.S.

To receive a Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery designation, a health care facility must demonstrate success in meeting patient safety as well as bariatric-specific quality measures, including complications and readmissions, for gastric stapling and/or gastric banding procedures. A health care facility must also have earned national accreditations at both the facility level and the bariatric care-specific level. In addition to meeting these quality thresholds, facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers+ are, on average, 20 percent more cost-efficient per episode of care compared to their peers.

Wellmark has recognized the following Iowa and South Dakota facilities for meeting the robust selection criteria for the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program:

Provider/Health System City Designation
Genesis Medical Center Davenport Blue Distinction Center+
Grinnell Regional Medical Center Grinnell
Blue Distinction Center+
Iowa Methodist Medical Center Belmond Blue Distinction Center
Iowa Specialty Hospital Iowa City Blue Distinction Center+
Mercy Hospital Iowa City Des Moines Blue Distinction Center+
MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center Mason City Blue Distinction Center+
MercyOne West Des Moines Medical Center West Des Moines Blue Distinction Center+
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Iowa City Blue Distinction Center+
South Dakota
Provider/Health System City Designation
Avera McKennan Hospital Sioux Falls Blue Distinction Center+
Sanford USD Medical Center Sioux Falls
Blue Distinction Center+

The Blue Distinction Specialty Care program remains a trusted and valuable source for patients seeking quality care in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, cellular immunotherapy, fertility care, knee and hip replacements, maternity care, spine surgery, transplants and substance use treatment and recovery.

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