Company’s bariatric surgery program demonstrates impacts on short-term outcomes

(Portland, OR) – The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), in collaboration with the Harvard Medical School Department of Health Care Policy, today recognized Regence for its innovative and successful approach to improving access to high quality, safe, and affordable healthcare for consumers.

Regence was awarded a Best of Blue Clinical Distinction Award(s) for its bariatric surgery program, which validated short-term health outcomes and cost impact. The Best of Blue Clinical Distinction Award program is collaboration between BCBSA and the Harvard Medical School Department of Health Care Policy, through which Harvard researchers evaluate and select programs by Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies for recognition based on their innovation, efficacy, and potential for replication.

“We are honored to be chosen for this award, as it reflects Regence’s deep commitment to health and wellness and our efforts to transform health care,” said Mark Ganz, president and CEO of Regence. “We believe that broader adoption of this program could offer a viable solution for improved quality, affordability and delivery of health care.”

“Through the development of this winning program, Regence has delivered on the Blues’ commitment to deliver the greatest value through innovative, consumer-focused solutions resulting in healthier lives and affordable access to safe and effective care,” said Scott P. Serota, BCBSA president and CEO. “And most importantly, this program shows that patients win when there is a strong collaboration between insurers and the provider community.”

Regence implemented a program that effectively identifies and validates members who will best benefit from bariatric surgery. This included demonstrating early improvements on health status and cost savings after surgery. At one and two years following surgery, there were statistically significant decreases (approximately 50 percent) in the use of key medications (cholesterol lowering, diabetes and blood pressure medications), which correlates to resolution of comorbidities associated with obesity. Additionally, prescription and medical claims cost trends decreased. These program results are on target toward achieving the long-term ROI with bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery has become an effective weight loss option for obesity when used in appropriate individuals. However, health care stakeholders have been challenged because it is expensive and can take time before results are realized. Regence’s program provides an innovative solution that aligns all stakeholders to address access to evidence-based treatment options for obesity.

“Harvard is pleased to recognize Regence for developing a program that sets such high standards for its effectiveness in improving patient care,” said Barbara J. McNeil, Ph.D., head of the Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School. “The Blues’ focus on quality, safety and access plays a critical role in improving the healthcare delivery system and enhancing quality and value for consumers.”

The Best of Blue Clinical Distinction Awards were presented in Chicago at the Association’s Blue National Summit, a gathering of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans designed to share best practices and recognize programs that can lead to improvements in healthcare delivery throughout the country.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 39 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for nearly 100 million members - one-in-three Americans. For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit

About Regence
Regence is the largest health insurer in the Northwest / Intermountain Region, offering health, life and dental insurance. Regence serves more than 2.5 million members as Regence BlueShield of Idaho, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah and Regence BlueShield (selected counties in Washington). Each health plan is a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Regence is committed to improving the health of our members and our communities, and to transforming our health care system. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter.