Last updated: February 19. 2013 8:47PM - 534 Views

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As more health insurers raise rates to deal with increased costs caused by obesity and related ailments, one local insurer is trying to help subscribers treat their issues and help others to prevent them from occurring.

Known as Blue Health Solutions, the health and wellness program is available at no additional cost to subscribers of all Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania plans through.

Though it was started several years ago, it's recently retooled itself and seen a rise in participation. It's even been honored by a national certification agency as having the Best Valid Care Management Program in Pennsylvania.

As businesses look to curb rising health care costs, more are requiring employees to use the services, which is also leading to increased calls for offered services.

While some blatantly tell plan representatives they're only calling because they were forced to, the nurses are trying to still convey a message and motivate the patient to take an interest in themselves, said Daelene Long, the senior director of clinical operations for the program. She said she believes the programs are working.

Long said she has noticed a willingness to talk about obesity in recent years and that's a good start to address what some have called America's epidemic.

Margie Andrews, the manager of health and disease management for the program, said obesity is obviously on everyone's radar, but it's not the only significant health care crisis.

With a staff of 60 housed inside the insurer's Wilkes-Barre offices, the team of health coaches and care managers, made up of nurses, dieticians and nutritionists, is tasked with taking calls from customers to handle health concerns including diabetes, weight management and tobacco cessation.

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