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CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Awarded for Inner-City Health Care Initiative

Hair, Heart and Health Program Lauded By Harvard Medical School

OWINGS MILLS, MD ( February 27, 2008) - CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) has received the 2007 "BlueWorks for Consumers" award from the BlueCross BlueShield Association and Harvard Medical School Department of Health Care Policy for its Hair, Heart and Health initiative. Hair, Heart and Health is designed to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease among African Americans in Baltimore City. CareFirst is just one of three health plans nationwide to be honored for programs that improve health care access and delivery for consumers.

"Hair, Heart and Health helps increase awareness of cardiovascular disease among a population that is at high risk for the condition," said Dr. Jon Shematek, Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President. "Individuals served by this program often lack access to primary health care. By making free screenings available in the community, we provide an important health care service that can help people live healthier - and even save lives."

Hair, Heart and Health of Baltimore City has 15 participating barber shops and beauty salons. Since the programs inception, the program has screened 2,279 customers, finding 60 percent to have varying levels of hypertension and providing 357 people ongoing monitoring for the condition.

The Harvard Medical School research team assessing the CareFirst program said, "Hypertension and coronary artery disease are among the biggest contributors to mortality and morbidity in the United States today. This program brings hypertension screening, monitoring and information to the community in a friendly, familiar environment and may result in more people getting much-needed medical care and making healthier lifestyle choices."

Success of CareFirst's Baltimore City Hair, Heart and Health program has led to expansion into Washington D.C. That program - in partnership with MedStar Research Institute - began in October 2007. In the programs first three months, seven shops have screened 129 customers, referring 40 people for additional care.

Scott P. Serota, President and CEO of the BlueCross BlueShield Association said, "This program achieves the goal of providing valuable health information to salon customers. CareFirst is to be congratulated for designing and implementing the Hair, Heart and Health program and also for the continued outreach they provide to their clients."

In its 71st year of service, CareFirst, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health care company which, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to 3.2 million individuals and groups in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia. Through its CareFirst Commitment initiative and other public mission activities, CareFirst supports efforts to increase the accessibility, affordability, safety and quality of health care throughout its market areas.

Click here to read The BlueCross BlueShield Association's press release.

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