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Iowa moves into #9 spot in Gallup-Healthways® Well-Being Index 2012 rankings
February 28, 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa and NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Feb. 28, 2013 – Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) today announced Iowa moved into the top 10 in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® (WBI) 2012 U.S. state rankings of well-being. The WBI is compiled from a daily survey that measures six key aspects of Americans’ well-being: life evaluation, emotional health, physical health, healthy behavior, work environment and basic access. Iowa increased 0.7 points to 68.1 in overall well-being in 2012, moving from No.16 to No.9 in the state rankings. 


The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is the official measurement tool of the Blue Zones Project™ and the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative. Wellmark and Healthways brought the Blue Zones Project to Iowa as the centerpiece of the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative. The Blue Zones Project in Iowa represents the largest community well-being improvement initiative ever launched. The project is based on Blue Zones principles gathered from places around the world where people naturally live longer, happier and more productive lives with lower rates of chronic disease and a higher quality of life. More than 120,000 Iowans statewide have pledged their support for the Blue Zones Project, and all Iowans and all Iowa businesses can access resources and tools online at


Wellmark Chairman and CEO John Forsyth said that the 2012 WBI results demonstrate significant progress in the Blue Zones Project. “We are proud that almost 20 percent of Iowans live in Blue Zones Project demonstration communities,” said Forsyth. “We consider this a tremendous start to nudge all Iowans toward healthier behaviors. Blue Zones is changing the lives of Iowans; and while there is still a lot of work to do to make permanent environmental changes across this state, it’s clear that Iowans are embracing the opportunities to improve their quality of life.”


Following is a summary of 2012 movement in Iowa in the six well-being domains measured by the Well-Being Index:

  • Life Evaluation: 48.9, unchanged from 2011;
  • Emotional Health: 80.5, a decrease of 0.6 points from 2011;
  • Physical Health: 78.1, a decrease of 0.2 points from 2011;
  • Healthy Behavior: 62.7, an increase of 0.4 points from 2011;
  • Work Environment: 52.8, an increase of 4.4 points from 2011;
  • Basic Access: 85.9, an increase of 0.5 points from 2011.

“As a precise barometer of the nation’s well-being, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is invaluable in identifying opportunities for well-being improvement in Iowa at the state and community level,” said Ben R. Leedle, Jr., Healthways CEO and President. “We are encouraged by the progress Iowa has made in 2012 and look forward to further improvement in 2013 and beyond.”    


Click here for the full 2012 U.S. State of Well-Being report and the 2012 Iowa State of Well-Being report.


About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®

Gallup and Healthways conducted more than 353,000 surveys between January and December 2011. The WBI, which has been polling 1,000 Americans per day, 350 days a year, evaluates six key areas of well-being in an effort to better understand the overall state of well-being in the U.S. Approximately 1.5 million surveys have been collected since polling began in January 2008, making the WBI the largest database of behavioral economics and information concerning holistic well-being in existence. The WBI is calculated on a scale of 0 to 100, where a score of 100 represents ideal well-being.  


The core questions that make up the WBI survey were scientifically designed by some of the world’s leading experts in economics, psychology and health to thoroughly measure how respondents are faring in all aspects of their lives: physically, emotionally, socially and professionally, as well as to take a daily pulse of how Americans rate the overall quality of their current life and outlook for the future.


The data resulting from the WBI can be used to identify where communities are doing well and where communities are struggling to target policies and invest in initiatives to optimize well-being, improving the lives of people in America and reducing health care costs.


About Wellmark

Wellmark, Inc. ( 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.


About Healthways

Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) is the largest independent global provider of well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government entities.  We provide highly specific and personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize each participant’s health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs.  Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years and now serves  approximately 40 million people on four continents.  Learn more at


About Blue Zones

Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better. The Company's work is rooted in the New York Times best-selling books The Blue Zones and Thrive—both published by National Geographic books.  In 2009, Blue Zones applied the tenets of the books to Albert Lea, Minn. and successfully raised life expectancy and lowered health care costs for city workers by 40 percent.  Blue Zones takes a systematic, environmental approach to well-being which focuses on optimizing policy, building design, social networks, and the built environment. The Blue Zones Project is based on this innovative approach.  For more information, visit


About Iowa Healthiest State Initiative

The Iowa Healthiest State Initiative is the nation’s first statewide comprehensive well-being improvement program. This business-led, government-endorsed effort is expected to help Iowans live longer, healthier and more productive lives, while also enabling the state to redirect billions of dollars currently spent on health care to efforts that will further grow the state’s economy. The Healthiest State Initiative is designed to help Iowa become the number one ranked state for well-being within five years as measured by the WBI.


Contact Wellmark Media Relations

Traci McBee
Phone: 515-376-4338


Teresa Roof
Phone: 515-376-5869


1331 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309-2901

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