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Anthem boosts elder fall proofing

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Anthem Inc. (NYSE:ANTM) is helping to put its muscle behind keeping older Americans from falling.

The health insurance giant included fall prevention screening on a new list of seven screenings it recommends for older adults.

In addition to recommending fall screenings, the company is recommending that older Americans talk to their doctors about screenings for diabetes, obesity, colorectal cancer, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Anthem says a thorough fall prevention screening should include a balance check, a vision check, and a medication review. Patients who appear to be at a high risk of falling should consider modifying their homes to reduce the risk of falling there, the company says.

See also: 4 steps toward keeping clients from stepping into a world of hurt

The National Council on Aging and the organizers of the recent White House Conference on Aging raised the profile of fall prevention as a health issue in April, by sponsoring a one-day falls prevention summit in Washington.

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Researchers at LifePlans Inc., a U.S. research arm of Munich Re that’s been active in the private long-term care insurance market, has participated in the falls prevention effort by testing a telephone-based fall prevention program for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has drawn attention to a wide range of preventive screenings by adding preventive screening and annual checkup benefits to the traditional Medicare program, and by putting the HHS secretary in charge of approving a package of preventive services benefits that commercial health plans must provide for enrollees without imposing deductibles, co-payments or other out-of-pocket costs.

Backers of some specific screenings have had to struggle to get the procedures into the PPACA preventive services package, or to keep recommended procedures on the recommended list. In recent years, for example, some health care policies have questioned the value of routine mammograms and PSA antigen screenings.

LifePlans found that the prevention program it studied was inexpensive and reduced the risk of serious, injury-causing falls in people ages 75 and older by 18 percent.

See also: Hancock Joins Fall Prevention Study