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Harvard Researchers Recognize S.C. BlueCross Initiative to Make Prescription Comparisons Easier.

National Poll Shows 57 Percent of S.C. Consumers Find it Hard to Shop for Prescription Drugs

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Harvard Medical School's Department of Health Care Policy has selected BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina's My Pharmacy Manager(SMCa) for honors this week. The program was chosen for its approach to helping consumers tackle the challenge of comparing prescription medicine costs.

South Carolina BlueCross BlueShield is one of four Blue companies being honored by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association during BlueWorks for Consumers Week for locally tailored programs that make health choices manageable for consumers. Harvard Medical School researchers judged the competing entries.

My Pharmacy Manager helps BlueCross BlueShield and BlueChoice([R]) HealthPlan of South Carolina members research prescription drug choices and save money by providing secure, easy online access to information about their prescription drug coverage. This includes lists of equivalent brand name and generic drugs to discuss with their doctors, comparative cost information and the ability to request mail-order refills.

"This program provides data that is fully customized to the member's own pharmacy benefits and the drugs they take every day. Delivered through a secure, convenient and already-familiar Web portal, this data becomes eminently actionable and may encourage conversion to lower-cost therapeutic alternatives," said Barbara McNeil, M.D., Ph.D, Chairman, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School.

According to a poll released this week by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, 67 percent of the country, and 57 percent of South Carolina consumers, said they do not track and compare prescription medicine costs. The poll also revealed that consumers would appreciate such tools, as 77 percent of South Carolinians said they definitely would purchase a generic version of their prescription drug if they had the ability to know it cost one-third less, was FDA-approved, and just as safe and effective.

"With rising prescription drug costs and an increasing number of new drugs in the market, it is important for consumers to understand, and make educated decisions with their doctor regarding, their prescription drugs choices," said Dr. John Little, vice president and chief medical officer at BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina. "In order for them to do so, it is imperative that they are armed with the necessary tools. My Pharmacy Manager is showing success with our members, and we hope others can learn from it and adopt a similar approach."

My Pharmacy Manager integrates more than 1,000 different benefit plans for more than 700,000 members. Generic drug usage for members who used My Pharmacy Manager improved by 12 percent during 2003, compared to 1 percent for non-users.

"My Pharmacy Manager( )clearly illustrates how we can effect change and help consumers better manage their medical choices across the country," said Scott P. Serota, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association president and CEO. "Blue companies are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to better serve consumers. The ability of each company to respond to local needs in an in-depth fashion, yet also have the potential for broad national reach, is one of our greatest strengths."

For more information about the BlueWorks program and Harvard-recognized programs that have been awarded the BlueWorks distinction, please visit www.bcbs.com/blueworks.

The poll, conducted by Knowledge Networks on behalf of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, surveyed 8,742 of men and women age 25-55. The margin of error is +/- 1 percentage point, 95 percent of the time.

BlueChoice HealthPlan of South Carolina (www.BlueChoiceSC.com) is a wholly owned subsidiary of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina (www.SouthCarolinaBlues.com). Both are headquartered in Columbia, SC, and are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. My Pharmacy Manager is a service mark of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is made up of 38 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 94 million - nearly one-in-three - Americans. For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its Plans, please visit www.BCBS.com.
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Date:Sep 27, 2006
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