More Blue Zones communities aim to reduce healthcare costs

The state of Hawaii and Fort Worth, Texas, are the newest areas working to become Blue Zones™ communities, according to an announcement from well-being improvement firm Healthways. In Blue Zones communities, citizens, schools, employers, restaurants, grocery stores and community leaders join forces and promote well-being.

The Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA) is collaborating with large employers and a select Hawaiian community that will pave the way for statewide Blue Zone development starting in 2014.

Hawaii's efforts follow a similar project in which Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield hopes to make Iowa the healthiest state in the union by 2016. In its Blue Zones project, Wellmark brought in experts to work with Iowa community leaders to help transform residents to be more active, healthier and longer-living, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index measures the effects of Blue Zone efforts by tracking how participants fare in their physical, emotional, social and professional lives.

"Each point in well-being improvement equates to a statistically significant percent decrease in the likelihood of hospital admission and emergency room visits and in the likelihood of incurring healthcare costs," the announcement states.

These projects aim to reduce healthcare costs, increase productivity and improve quality of life.  Blue Zone communities in California reported the following outcomes:

  • a 14 percent drop in obesity, translating into $2.35 million in healthcare0related savings over two years;
  • a 30 percent decline in smoking rates for $6.97 million in healthcare-related savings between 2010 and 2012;
  • a 10 percent increase in exercise rates; and
  • a 9 percent improvement in healthy eating habits based on reported rates of fruit and vegetable consumption.  

To learn more:
- here's the Healthways announcement
- check out the well-being index

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