Insurance company says money saved keeping Iowans healthy

Iowa's leading health insurer says it has saved about $12 million in keeping patients well instead of being treated when they're sick.

The Des Moines Register reports the savings are less than 2 percent of the overall care provided to about 358,000 patients over the past two years.

But Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield says the savings from its Accountable Care Organizations are a start. It's an arrangement that rewards hospital and clinics for preventing expensive health care.

Wellmark official Mike Fay says the savings come from clinics encouraging patients to come in for checkups before medical issues become severe.

Fay says some clinic staff members are also using medical records to identify patients who often go to the emergency room for minor problems.