SOURCE: National Business Group on Health

November 28, 2006 12:02 ET

National Business Group on Health Unveils "A Purchaser's Guide to Clinical Preventive Services"

New Guide Designed to Help Employers Offer Coverage for 46 Clinical Preventive Services

WASHINGTON, DC -- (MARKET WIRE) -- November 28, 2006 --A new guide designed to help employers improve the health of their employees and their families, as well as potentially reduce their healthcare costs, was released today by the National Business Group on Health, a national non-profit organization representing 250 large employers.

"A Purchaser's Guide to Clinical Preventive Services: Moving Science into Coverage" is divided into seven major sections and contains the scientific evidence, recommended guidance, and detailed benefit language employers need to implement a comprehensive and structured clinical preventive services program within their medical benefit plan. It provides information on 46 clinical preventive services proven to be effective in preventing illness and premature death including health screenings, counseling, immunization, preventive medication, and preventive treatment for various illnesses such as, but not limited to, colorectal cancer, depression, hypertension, obesity, and tuberculosis. The guide, which helps shift the emphasis of benefits from acute care to prevention, also provides employers with resource information and tips on how to promote the delivery and use of clinical and community-based preventive services.

"It has been estimated that 75 percent of all healthcare costs are directly related to preventable chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity," said Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health. "Preventable conditions resulting from alcohol misuse, tobacco use, and complications during pregnancy are also leading causes of disability and lost productivity. Employers and other purchasers of healthcare can reduce, or in some cases, avoid healthcare costs associated with these preventable conditions by offering coverage for and promoting the use of clinical preventive services."

Experts from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided technical assistance in selecting which services to include in the guide. More than 50 subject matter experts from the CDC, which provided funding for this project, contributed to the development of the "Purchaser's Guide." AHRQ experts worked to translate the science of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force into language that can be used to influence benefit coverage and create change.

All of the clinical preventive services in the "Purchaser's Guide" have been shown to be clinically effective by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the CDC, or other authoritative organizations. To be included in the "Purchaser's Guide," clinical preventive services recommendations were required to: be either evidence-based or recommended guidance, address a serious health threat in terms of illness, death, or quality of life, including risk of disability, or address a condition that results in substantial direct or indirect costs (e.g., absenteeism, lost productivity) for payers. Each chapter summarizes the evidence for the recommended benefit in a summary evidence box.

"The evidence increasingly shows us that many preventive strategies help people avoid disease,'' said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "They also help clinicians detect illness at an early stage, when treatments are more effective and less expensive. The 'Purchaser's Guide' includes several new and important features that will help employers and others improve coverage for these preventive services."

"This is public health science research in action -- a guide to provide employers with advice on how to have a healthier, more productive workforce," said CDC Director Julie Gerberding, M.D. "We know a lot about what works to help keep people healthy and we know that different people need different things. This guide helps employers match available services with what their beneficiaries actually need."

"The National Business Group on Health is strongly committed to helping employers make clinical preventive services an integral part of their overall employee health benefit program. Introducing the 'Purchaser's Guide' is an important step to help achieve that goal," concluded Darling.

Copies of "A Purchaser's Guide to Clinical Preventive Services: Moving Science into Coverage" are available to the public at no charge by visiting www.businessgrouphealth.org/prevention/purchasers/.

About the National Business Group on Health

The National Business Group on Health, representing 250 mostly large employers, is the nation's only non-profit organization devoted exclusively to finding innovative and forward-thinking solutions to large employers' most important health care and related benefits issues. National Business Group on Health members provide health coverage for more than 50 million U.S. workers, retirees, and their families.

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