HMSA takes coveted C. Everett Koop award for HealthPass program

The Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA) HealthPass program recently garnered national recognition for its ability to improve the health of HMSA members while simultaneously reducing medical costs.

The nonprofit association was one of only three organizations in the country to receive the prestigious C. Everett Koop National Health Award for 2002.

HealthPass provides program services each year to about 20,000 HMSA members throughout the state, including annual health-risk screenings, personal contacts with health professionals, risk-based referrals to clinical intervention programs, and connections to community-based programs for smoking cessation, disease management, health and safety, and health education.

The Kaua’i HealthPass office is in Kukui Grove Professional Village.

According to an HMSA spokesman, over a five-year period, health-risk reductions among HealthPass participants were found in the following categories: driving safety (49 percent), smoking/tobacco use (29 percent), mental health (22 percent), alcohol use (19 percent), exercise/activity (17 percent), eating habits (15 percent), preventive screenings (13 percent), stress management (11 percent), self care (8 percent), blood pressure control (3 percent), and back care (3 percent).

The program also realized annual savings in medical claims, yielding a 1:1 (break-even) return on investment in only two years.

HealthPass began its comprehensive health-promotion and disease-prevention activities in 1990. That year it provided services to less than 3,000 members. Today the program serves about 20,000 members of HMSA’s preferred-provider and point-of-service health plans.

Each year it provides early-detection and disease-prevention services which make timely medical intervention possible, the spokesman said.

The program goals are to:

– Improve the health of HMSA members by encouraging healthy behaviors;

– Reduce risks through early detection and physician integration;

– Help mitigate rising medical costs.

“We are honored to receive this national recognition,” said Cliff Cisco, HMSA senior vice president. “HealthPass is an excellent health-risk-reduction program that is making a real difference in the lives of so many people,” he said.

“By participating in HealthPass, our members are taking an active part in improving their health, and they are also helping to stem the rising cost of medical care in our community,” he said.

Taking part in the recent awards presentation ceremony in Washington, D.C. were HMSA’s Dr. Gregory Park, medical director; Sandie Libby, director of health education and preventive services; and Caryn Ireland, director of health promotion and preventive services.

Also in attendance was Dan Gold, Ph.D., director of research for StayWell Health Management in St. Paul, Minn. StayWell provides health risk assessment services to HealthPass, and did all the research that lead to the award.

Koop, former U.S. surgeon general, is chairman of The Health Project. The Health Project is a nonprofit, private-public consortium dedicated to the furtherance of better health and lower medical costs by reducing the need and demand for medical services.

Since 1994, the C. Everett Koop National Health Awards have been given out each year to worksite, community or provider programs which have soundly documented improved health and decreased medical costs.

The essential criteria for the award include providing quality care and reducing the rate of health-care inflation by minimizing unnecessary medical expenditures.

The Koop award has been called the most prestigious in the health-care field.

“HMSA joins the ranks of major forward-thinking corporations, and puts Hawai’i on the map in winning this national health award,” said Libby.

“The award confirms HMSA’s commitment to preventive health,” said Park.

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