<0> Wellmark Media & Community RelationsCourtney Greene, 515-988-0918orHealthways CommunicationsBruce Middlebrooks, 615-614-4463 </0>
Wellmark Blue Crossand Blue Shield and Healthways (Nasdaq: HWAY) announced that 12 communities have applied to be among the second of Blue Zones Project demonstration sites in Iowa with populations above 10,000 citizens.
The Blue Zones Project is a cornerstone of Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative, which is committed to making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by 2016 as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Cedar Falls, Mason City, Spencer and Waterloo were named the initial four demonstration sites in May 2012. Six additional Iowa communities with populations of more than 10,000 will be selected during the second phase, for a total of 10 Blue Zones Project demonstration sites of this size. Additional demonstration sites with populations of less than 10,000 citizens will also be selected and announced in October.
Communities that submitted a complete application to become a Blue Zones Project demonstration site during round one were given the opportunity to provide additional information for consideration as an addendum to their existing applications.
The Blue Zones Project is based on Blue Zones principles developed by Dan Buettner, National Geographic explorer and author of . Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better lives by taking a systematic, environmental approach to well-being, which focuses on optimizing policy, social networks and the built environments where people spend their time. Brought to Iowa through an innovative sponsorship between Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Healthways, the initiative encourages all Iowa communities to change their built environments to make the healthy choice, the easy choice.
Laura Jackson, Wellmark executive vice president Health Care Strategy and Policy, said, “The Blue Zones Project has continued to gain momentum since it kicked off just over a year ago. We are excited that Iowans in dozens of communities are making progress improving their environments on their journey to better well-being.”
“Recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index findings confirm a significant opportunity in Iowa for improvement in key areas of well-being, including healthy behaviors and work environments,” said Mary Lawyer, Healthways state director of the Blue Zones Project. “We are excited by the changes we are already seeing in the initial Blue Zones Project demonstration communities, and we look forward to working with other Iowa demonstration communities to enhance their well-being in a similar manner.”
Blue Zones Project demonstration sites are communities in Iowa where Blue Zones principles are applied and serve as models to other communities in Iowa. The selected communities will receive assistance from national experts to develop and implement a blueprint for making permanent environmental, social and policy changes that transition people into healthier behaviors that can lead to longer, happier lives.
The selection of the final six Blue Zones Project demonstration site communities of this size will be made in January 2013. For more information about the Blue Zones Project, please visit .
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.
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 .
Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better. The Company’s work is rooted in the best-selling books and —both published by National Geographic books. In 2009, Blue Zones applied the tenets of the books to Albert Lea, MN and successfully raised life expectancy and lowered health care costs for city workers by 40%. 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