DES MOINES, Iowa and NASHVILLE, Tenn. – November 8, 2011 – Wellmark® Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® and Healthways (Nasdaq: HWAY) announced today that 84 communities in Iowa submitted a Statement of Interest to become one of ten demonstration sites for the Blue Zones Project™, a cornerstone of the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative. Submission of the Statement of Interest is the first step of the application process for the Blue Zones Project.
“We could not be more pleased with the enthusiasm shown by our fellow Iowans in the Blue Zones Project,” said Wellmark Executive Vice President Laura Jackson. “With 84 communities throughout the state demonstrating their desire and motivation in round one, this is an extremely encouraging start in our quest to make Iowa the healthiest state.”
The Blue Zones Project is based upon findings from an eight-year worldwide longevity study to identify common elements of the world’s longest-lived cultures. Blue Zones®, LLC uses third party research and direct studies, to identify the world’s best practices in longevity and well-being. Working in collaboration with the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, it uses this research to develop lifestyle management tools. In 2009, Blue Zones led a 10-month pilot project in Albert Lea, Minnesota, where residents increased their projected life expectancy by 2.9 years. In addition, employers in that city reported a decline in healthcare claims cost and a drop in absenteeism.
“Iowans have sent a clear signal that they are eager to improve their well-being,” said Justin Smith, co-leader of the Blue Zones Project. “During the road shows, we were impressed by the passion shown by communities throughout Iowa and we look forward to the next stage in this exciting journey together.”
After the Statements of Interest are reviewed, select communities will be asked to submit a formal, detailed application to become one of ten demonstration sites to receive assistance in developing and implementing a blueprint for making permanent environmental, policy, and social network changes that transition people into healthier behaviors. These communities will share their learnings with other communities in Iowa.
The invitations to submit formal applications will be extended to communities by November 23, and the applications must be submitted by January 4, 2012. Upon assessment of these applications, a group of finalist communities will then be selected to host a site visit between February 27, 2012 and March 16, 2012.This process will culminate with the selection of the first group of lead communities in May 2012.
While the review process is underway, residents can support their community by pledging online at www.bluezonesproject.com or by texting “BZP” to the number 772937. NOTE: Pledges made on the Healthiest State website do NOT count toward The Blue Zones Project.
Well-being improvement in the participating communities will be measured using the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®, the first-ever daily assessment of U.S. residents' health and well-being. Well-Being Index data reveals a significant opportunity in Iowa for improvement, particularly among healthy behaviors and work environments. The Blue Zones Project will help employers and communities achieve greater well-being, which should lead to lower health care costs, higher productivity and increased economic viability.
The 84 communities that submitted Statements of Interest are as follows:
- Cedar Falls
- Cedar Rapids
- Charles City
- Council Bluffs
- Des Moines
- Fort Dodge
- Greater Cedar Valley Alliance
- Grundy Center
- Iowa City Area (Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty)
- Jones County
- La Porte City
- Lake View
- Le Mars
- Mason City
- Mount Pleasant
- Mount Vernon
- Orange City
- Polk City
- Red Oak
- Sac City
- Sioux Center
- Sioux City
- Spirit Lake
- St. Ansgar
- Storm Lake
- Story City
- West Branch
- West Des Moines
Whether or not a city is chosen as a Blue Zones Community demonstration site depends on several factors, including how ready the community is for change, citizen support, if volunteers are available and if different entities are willing to work together. Learn more about the Blue Zones Project at www.bluezonesproject.com.
Wellmark, Inc. (www.wellmark.com) does business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Wellmark and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, including Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc., insure or pay health benefit claims for more than 2 million members in Iowa and South Dakota. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
Healthways is the leading provider of specialized, comprehensive solutions to help millions of people maintain or improve their health and well-being and, as a result, reduce overall costs. Healthways’ solutions are designed to help healthy individuals stay healthy, mitigate or eliminate lifestyle risk factors that can lead to disease and optimize care for those with chronic illness. Our proven, evidence-based programs provide highly specific and personalized interventions for each individual in a population, irrespective of age or health status, and are delivered to consumers by phone, mail, internet and face-to-face interactions, both domestically and internationally. Healthways also provides a national, fully accredited complementary and alternative Health Provider Network and a national Fitness Center Network, offering convenient access to individuals who seek health services outside of, and in conjunction with, the traditional healthcare system. For more information, please visit www.healthways.com.